Fire chars house at foot of Powell Butte

See firefighters work in billowing clouds of smoke — fighting an outer East Portland residential fire in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood …

Firefighters scramble up onto the roof of the burning house, to fight the fire from above.

By David F. Ashton
~ Images courtesy of PF&R

When a home caught fire at 4230 SE 141st Avenue, at the western end of the Powell Butte Nature Park, on Sunday morning, January 11, firefighters from both Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) and Gresham Fire Bureau responded at 9:46 a.m.

The first arriving Engine Company reported back to dispatch seeing white smoke streaming out from under the eaves of the two-story structure.

Early reports from the first-in firefighters were that there was an active fire in the basement. As other responding rigs pulled up, they learned that all residents were out the home, but that one resident in need of a medical evaluation for possible smoke inhalation.

Firefighters drag their water hoses in through the back door of the house to reach the basement.

Discovering that the basement entry was at the rear of the structure, crews dragged their hose lines round to the back of the house, making their way down into the basement to attack the fire.

“While those hose lines to the basement were put into place, active fire was showing in the second story, due to flames likely running up the interior framing and wall of the house,” a PF&R spokesperson reported.

The striped safety tape points out another complication: The electrical service power line started arcing before it dropped to the ground.

“This fire grew during the first few minutes as crews arrived, due to the large amount of excessive clutter inside of the home providing ‘fuel’; and, due to the difficulty in getting to the fire locations,” the Portland Fire official explained. “This led to a lot of smoke pushing out under pressure from the windows, the eave line, and the seams of the roof.”

That led the Battalion Chief to direct a Ladder Truck Company crew cut open the roof to remove heat and smoke from the inside of the building.

Smoke builds up, under pressure, on the second floor of the house.

With six four-person crews working four different hose lines, and opening the roof of the home using saws, the fire was brought under control within 15 minutes of the call being dispatched.

In addition to the interior clutter, other challenges the crews faced were the extended distance from the pumping engine to the structure, and the abundance of slippery moss on the roof that had to be scraped away to keep firefighters from slipping and falling off.

Two residents were be displaced by the fire, and are working with the Red Cross for lodging assistance. One additional resident was transported to the hospital for treatment and evaluation.

Firefighters enter the second-story bedroom of the burning house, searching for any remaining fire.

A PF&R Fire Investigator was called to the scene. However, the cause of this fire has yet to be revealed.

Fire safety message from PF&R: “Don’t take a chance; quickly exit any building in the event of a fire to avoid injury.”

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™




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