Centennial bedroom blaze challenges firefighters

Find out what we learned about this house afire on SE Clay Court …

In the smoke, mixed with fog, a firefighter dons his gear, ready to head into the burning outer East Portland house. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

A fire broke out in a home near Parklane Park in the Centennial neighborhood, just before 10:00 a.m. on January 26.

Responding in thick fog, the crews from both Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) and the Gresham Fire Department converged on the home, located at 15424 SE Clay Court.

“Firefighters arrived and found heavy fire in a bedroom,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

Crews stand by on the roof, ready to cut “vertical ventilation” holes so hot, explosive gasses can escape the burning structure. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

An engineer with this rig makes sure there is plenty of water available to fight this fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Firefighters simultaneously searched for occupants while working to extinguish the fire,” Simmons reported. “The home’s occupants had escaped prior to the arrival of firefighters, and were safe.”

As with most structure fires, Simmons said, the “overhaul” – searching and extinguishing hidden embers – took crews a far longer time than did putting out the fire.

This powerful portable fan the firefighter is setting up helps blow smoke from the house, after the fire has been extinguished. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“A fire investigator was called to the scene,” Simmons said.

“The investigator found that a halogen lamp sitting on a bed had tipped over,” Simmons later told East Portland News. “As you know, halogen lamps get very hot; and this lamp caught the bedding on fire.”

The resident tried to extinguish the fire with a bucket of water before calling 9-1-1, letting precious moments slip by. “The smoke from the fire was already too thick,” noted Simmons. “This is not a good idea because the fire likely grew during this time.”

Also, it was noted that there were no working smoke detectors in the house – they’d be a potential life saver. This fire caused damage estimated at $24,000 to structure and contents.

“The best plan is to immediately get out of a burning structure, and call 9-1-1,” Simmons concluded. “And fire/smoke alarms do save lives.”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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