Fire reps through two Montavilla businesses

One of the business owners says homeless people may have started the blaze …

These two century-old Montavilla neighborhood houses, now used as businesses, go up in flames after the wooden deck between them catches fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The crew of an AMR ambulance saw smoke and flames rising between two businesses located in century-old houses on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, across the street from Vestal Elementary School, on August 25 – and reported it at 10:22 a.m.

Engine Company 7 of Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R)’s Mill Park Station arrived three minutes later, and radioed in their “size-up” of the situation – a rapidly growing “deck fire” that was starting to ignite the neighboring buildings.

Firefighters spray streams of water on the burning houses, hoping to contain the damage.

Crews work outside this former home, now a chiropractic clinic, to put out the fire.

The first PF&R Battalion Chief to arrive quickly called for a “second alarm” – bringing more equipment and firefighters to the location, just south of SE Davis Street. Before long, 29 PF&R units were at the scene, completely blocking SE 82nd Avenue to all traffic.

The flames licked up the sides of the two buildings, one of which was built in 1908 and the other in 1909, penetrating the buildings, and reaching up into the attic spaces.

Pulling in water lines, these firefighters work to put out the fire inside the Thai restaurant.

The combined crews got the fires under control in about 20 minutes, but stayed for hours putting out hot spots.

Both of the buildings are owned by Dr. Richard R. Krein D.C. and Connie Krein, who were on hand to watch the firefighters work.

From inside and out, firefighters fight the blaze raging inside the chiropractic clinic.

Looking at the northern building, the chiropractic office of her husband, Connie Krein told reporters that they’ve had problems with homeless and lawless people “hanging out” behind and between their buildings.

Just weeks ago, thieves cut the wires and connections to their building’s air conditioner, Krein said. “The insurance company just paid to have a new one installed. Now, we have no building to air condition.”

Two PF&R Arson Squad Investigators arrive on-scene.

Fire crews make sure that the fire on the deck, where the blaze started, is completely extinguished.

Homeless people would often sleep between the two buildings, said Nancy Potsilok, the owner of Bai Yok Thai Cuisine.

“We check every night when we close that all of our cooking stoves are turned off,” Potsilok said. “I worry when I see several people hanging out around here, smoking, having little parties.”

A PF&R Parkrose Station 2 fire academy recruit at the scene reportedly had minor heat exhaustion; no other injuries were reported. Investigators are working to pin down the cause.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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