Firefighters race to save Hazelwood house – and pets

See why neighbors now wonder if the occupants are running a “puppy mill” at their outer SE Portland residence …

A lot of smoke, lit by the late afternoon son, billows from this Hazelwood Neighborhood house, as firefighters start extinguishing the blaze inside. Greg Muir, PF&R photo

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
No humans were at home at suppertime on August 2, when a fire broke out at a house on 721 SE 139th Avenue, a block south of SE Stark Street.

But, as a fire caused the structure to fill with deadly smoke, more than a dozen pets inside struggled to survive.

Up on the steeply-pitched roof, firefighters cut holes for “vertical ventilation”, and check for fire extension.

“When the crew riding Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Truck 7 arrived at about 7:00 p.m., they reported back to dispatch that ‘heavy smoke’ was coming from several windows in the house,” PF&R spokesperson Inspector Ron Rouse said.

Around back, a firefighter from Mill Park Station’s Truck 7 watches, while crew members cut vertical ventilation holes in the roof to allow heat and smoke to dissipateGreg Muir, PF&R photo

The firefighters forced open doors and began searching the residence for victims – and came across 13 pets in this mid-County house.

The crews of Engine 31 from Rockwood, Engine 30 from Gateway, and Engine 29 from Gilbert pulled hose lines to protect the fire attack crews as well as the neighboring homes, Rouse noted.

In the front yard, firefighter/paramedics use their special pet resuscitation apparatus to revive an ailing dog.

“Firefighter crews worked simultaneously, extinguishing the fire inside the structure, and ventilating the residence,” he added. “They had the fire contained quickly.”

At the same time, other firefighters were evacuating the many pets, which neighbors said were mostly small dogs. “One of the pets was treated by a firefighter/paramedic,” Rouse said.

These firefighters hold three of the 13 dogs they rescued from the home. Greg Muir, PF&R photo

“I think it’s a rental house,” said neighbor Gene Anderson. “I’ve heard they breed and sell dogs out of the house; some say it’s a small ‘puppy mill’. I don’t know; maybe they just like to have lots of little dogs around.”

A firefighter on-scene confirmed that indicated the fire had started in the garage area, and may have then extended into the house through the attic.

This outer East Portland fire’s cause remains under investigation. Although at least four Portland Police Bureau officers were on-scene, no information is available about why they were there.

Four full fire crews care for the rescued dogs while they continue to make sure the fire has been fully extinguished.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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