Firefighters battle two outer East Portland house fires

Find out why they couldn’t do much to save the first house – and, how their prompt action kept the second home intact …

Flames leap from this abandoned house, as firefighters use “defensive positions” to keep the trees and surrounding homes from catching ablaze in Mill Park. Dick Harris, PF&R image

By David F. Ashton
Neighbors in the Mill Park Neighborhood have long complained about vacant houses in the area that are occupied, they say, by squatters.

One of those dwellings, off SE 111th Avenue, is set off the road among tall fir trees. It may or not have been occupied by squatters in the past, but there were none in it when it caught fire the evening of on August 31.

“When Mill Park Station 7 crews answered the call that came at 9:26 p.m., they found the vacant house was completely ablaze,” recounted Portland Fire & Rescue Public Information Officer Ron Rouse.

Firefighters can do little to save this structure, fully engulfed in flames. Dick Harris, PF&R image

As flames shot high into the night sky, firefighters determined that the apparently-abandoned house was indeed unoccupied. “Additional firefighters from Mt. Tabor, Lents and Gateway stations arrived. They secured a water supply, and began protecting the neighboring homes and trees.”

Other firefighters continued to pour water on the burning structure for about two hours.
“The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and fire crews are still on-scene,” Rouse reported that evening.

Loaded with fuel, this house burned for hours, before it was reduced to cinders. Dick Harris, PF&R image

Powellhurst-Gilbert fire caused by careless smoking

-4 Firefighters work quickly to reduce the damage to this house in Powellhurst-Gilbert. Dick Harris, PF&R image

The second house fire started in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood just before 4:00 a.m. on September 4.

The occupants ran outside, and neighbors called 9-1-1, with flames showing in the house at 13930 SE Bush Street.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Gilbert Station 29, Mill Park Station 7, Lents Station 11, and crews from Rockwood Station 31 rolled to the scene – and saw the fire quickly spreading up the front of the structure.

“It was spreading up to the second floor,” Rouse reported to East Portland News. “Fire crews were able to contain and mitigate it in short order.”

This fire, which caused an estimated $5,000 in damages, was found by a PF&R Fire Investigator to have been caused by smoldering bark dust – ignited by a discarded cigarette, Rouse added.

This fire could have been avoided by properly discarding smoking materials. Dick Harris, PF&R image

“Be careful to dispose of smoking materials properly, in a fireproof container,” the Fire Bureau spokesman cautioned.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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