Burning bush singes apartment building

This was more than a trivial blaze, it seems …

It takes only minutes for firefighters to mow down the burning arborvitae, but these Mill Park neighborhood apartments have been damaged by the heat. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

Firefighters are always concerned when they’re called to fire at an apartment building, because of the potential for the blaze to spread, and because of the number of residents it can affect.

The first rigs rolled out from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Mill Park Station 7, heading to 1901 SE 122nd Avenue, at 9:45 a.m. on May 31.

Crews quench the embers below the siding on the apartment building. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Before they arrived at the scene, responding units reported seeing a column of smoke rising from the area,” said PF&R spokesman Lieutenant Tommy Schroeder.

When they arrived, crews found that a row of arborvitae bushes ablaze. “The fire had extended to the vinyl siding of the building, and quickly spread up the exterior wall to the third floor,” Schroeder said.

Chipping away the singed siding, firefighters make sure no hot embers remain. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Third floor windows cracked from the heat, but no fire spread into the interior of the structure, Schroeder added. “Additional crews were assigned to check the interior for occupants and fire extension, as well as to protect any fire exposure to other adjacent buildings.”

Some residents speculated that the fire was started by a discarded cigarette, but the official cause of the conflagration has yet to be released by PF&R Investigators.

PF&R Battalion Chief Shanders talks with the manager of the apartment building, as firefighters snuff out embers under the building’s siding. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“With dry weather in the forecast for the summer, we’re reminding everyone to exercise caution when there are combustible materials or plants are near a structure,” Schroeder cautioned. “Don’t dispose of smoking materials near ground cover such as barkdust, wood chips, or dry foliage.”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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