Faulty engine heater ignites truck, garage

Discover why firefighters’ quick arrival kept an unfortunate malfunction from turning into a tragedy …

Fire rigs from three Portland Fire & Rescue Stations roll to this reported house fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Less than five minutes after the alarm was sounded on February 28, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Engine 11, and Rescue 11, had made their way through a pelting rainstorm – from their Lents fire station to SE 81st Avenue, just south of SE Duke Street, arriving at 8:34 p.m. for a reported house and truck fire.

At the scene, PF&R Battalion Chief Chris Babcock reported that firefighters had discovered smoke and fire from the front of a pickup truck, which in turn had ignited the garage door and its door frame.

Working in a torrential downpour of nearly-freezing rain, firefighters of Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 11 work to snuff out the truck fire.

Firefighters pour water on the garage door and frame to keep the fire from spreading to the house to which it’s connected.

“To have enough crew and equipment available, the crews from Truck 25 and Engine 20 were also called to the scene,” explained Babcock. “But, it looks as if Engine 11’s crew already had the fire knocked down.”

The Chief said he’d learned that the fire started in the truck, parked close to the garage. “It lit the garage door on fire. But, firefighters extinguished the fire; it didn’t extend into the garage or the house.”

Firefighters carefully check the garage door frame, making sure the fire has been completely extinguished.

Checking the official records for us, PF&R Public Information Officer Paul Corah told East Portland News, “Crews closed out the call at 9:36 p.m. The fire was ruled accidental; it appears as if a component in the pickup truck’s engine block heater caught fire. The loss to truck and garage is estimated at $6,000.”

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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