Fire destroys Powellhurst-Gilbert ‘squatter’ house

Here’s why firefighters made sure the blaze didn’t spread to other outer East Portland properties, but let this house burn to the ground …

An hour before dawn, Portland Fire & Rescue rigs fill a street, in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, answering a house fire call.

By David F. Ashton

Neighbors near the house at 2823 SE 87th Avenue, located between SE Brooklyn and Clinton streets, said they were glad no one was reported injured when the house caught on fire. But, just the same, due to transients “camping” in the residence for some time, they were glad it burned down in a fire that started early on December 3.

“There was people going in and out of that place, at all hours, doing who knows what,”  Deloris Slater told East Portland News, as she watched Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters spraying water on the house, originally built in 1928. “That big yellow ‘No Trespassing’ sign on the front of the house might as well have read, ‘Come on in and squat here!’” she opined.

The raging fire, and collapsing roof, keep fighters from entering the blazing inferno to fight this conflagration. PF&R image

PF&R crews who were dispatched to the blazing residence at 5:58 a.m. that morning, reported back to their dispatchers seeing  “heavy fire, and smoke” billowing from the building’s attic and the second floor, with the roof collapsing.

“We’ve learned from neighbors that it was a ‘hoarder house’ before transients began living here some time ago,” PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Laurent Picard said. “Being filled with flammable items makes it dangerous for firefighters to enter the burning structure,” he observed.

As morning breaks, firefighters take a “defensive” stand against this fire. PF&R image

Lt. Picard also revealed that their plan was to protect surrounding exposures, but allow the fire to burn until the structure collapses. For this reason, fire crews were at the scene well past noon.

No one was injured in this fire. Due to the extensive damage to the residence, it is unlikely that the cause will ever be know.

By midday, this once stately home is now a heap of smoldering rubble. PF&R image

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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