Firefighters douse Glenfair Neighborhood four-plex blaze – and revive cat

See why firefighters had the equipment on hand to make sure this tabby, almost asphyxiated from smoke, got a second chance at life …

Portland Fire & Rescue crew members get report from their initial search, and learn no victims are trapped in the burning apartment. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Story by David F. Ashton
A Good Samaritan driving by an L-shaped four-plex in the Glenfair Neighborhood called 9-1-1 to report heavy black smoke and flames coming from a unit at 414 SE 151 Avenue on January 19.

Four minutes after Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) received the call at 4:40 p.m., engines and trucks rolled up to the scene. While some firefighters started pulling hose lines, others rushed into the smoke-filled unit, searching for an elderly woman possibly trapped inside.

Firefighters bring in more equipment, making sure the fire doesn’t spread to other units in the four-plex. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Crew members begin a secondary search of the apartment unit. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Firefighters were able to make a fast and aggressive attack on the fire,” reported PF&R spokesman Firefighter Tommy Schroeder. “They were able to quickly extinguish a burning couch in the apartment unit’s front room.”

No victims were found during their primary search of the apartment unit, Schroeder reported. But, while making a secondary search, the crew found a feline victim – a tabby cat overcome by smoke, and unconscious in the rear bedroom of the apartment.

As officers from the Portland Police Bureau look on, firefighters start CPR on a tabby cat, overcome by smoke in the burning unit. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“They brought the cat outside to be tended to,” Schroeder told us. “Thanks to generous donations, all our Battalion Chiefs’ vehicles are now equipped with ‘Pet Resuscitation Kits’.

By quickly putting the kitty CPR unit to use, firefighters were able to revive the pet. “The cat was transported to a veterinary hospital in stable condition,” Schroeder said.

Afternoon drive-time traffic snarled for some time, because a fire engine’s crew needed to lay hose across SE Stark from the hydrant to the fire, thus closing the street for the duration of the incident.

Within minutes, this lucky kitty is revived, thanks to special kits packed into PF&R Battalion Chief rigs. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Careless smoker said to caused blaze
After the fire, Schroeder reported that investigators blame the fire on “smoker’s carelessness”. “It was determined that the fire was caused by a cigarette that had fallen into the couch. Compounding the potential danger of careless smoking was that the smoke detector was found to have no batteries installed.”

Total damages to the structure, property, and contents was set at a whopping $638,000.

“If you see what looks like a fire, don’t assume someone else has reported it,” Schroeder concluded. “Call it in, and then stay nearby and give dispatchers information they can relay to first-responders – you may save lives.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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