Firefighters tackle evening, morning blazes

Take a look, and see how crews contended with two very different kinds of outer East Portland house fires, just 15 hours apart …

Flames show through the bedroom window of this Wilkes neighborhood home, and smoke billows out the roof as firefighters cut vertical ventilation holes in the roof. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton
Two residential fires – one in a traditional house, and one in a mobile home – kept two shifts of Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews busy on the afternoon of April 11 and on the morning of April 12.

One thing that both fires had in common was that crews from Gresham Fire Department came to help at both fires – because they were located near the Portland City boundary with Gresham.

Fire rages inside this Wilkes neighborhood home, as firefighters begin attacking it from the inside, back – and the roof. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Firefighters converged on the Wilkes neighborhood on April 11, having been called to a house fire at 2066 NE 143rd Avenue at 3:45 p.m.

When they arrived, they found a considerable amount of smoke and fire showing from the front of the house. “Within minutes, the fire spread into the attic and to the back of the house,” PF&R spokesperson Ron Rouse said.

While making sure all occupants and pets were out of the blazing structure, crews began attacking the fire from inside the house, while simultaneously knocking the fire down at the back of the building.

Black smoke turns to gray steam, as firefighters extinguish the blaze. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“This kind of fire attack has to be coordinated, so the outside firefighters don’t spray the inside crews, thereby limiting their mobility,” Rouse told East Portland News. “Firefighters had to cut several holes in the roof – we call it ‘vertical ventilation’ – to allow the smoke to vent to the outside.”
All occupants escaped the fire unharmed and there were no injuries. No damage estimate or cause of fire has been released by fire investigators.

Cat saves woman in Centennial mobile home fire

Working in dense smoke, firefighters work to extinguish a fire in a mobile home. Greg Muhr, PF&R photo

At 6:02 a.m. the following morning, April 12, PF&R and Gresham Fire crews again rolled out to respond to another fire – this one, in a mobile home – in the mid-County Centennial neighborhood, at 16745 SE Division.

“When crews arrived, they found a mobile home with heavy fire and smoke involvement,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman.

A firefighter with Mill Park Engine 7 steadies a water line, while another crewmember inside extinguishes the fire. Greg Muhr, PF&R photo

Firefighters learned that a woman had been asleep inside when the fire broke out. “She said that she was awakened by her cat, and realized there was heavy smoke and heat inside the home,” Chatman related. “She and the cat were able to make it out without serious injury.”

Because of the close proximity of mobile homes in the park, preventing the fire’s spread to additional homes was a priority. So, in addition to extinguishing the fire in the mobile home, other crewmembers hosed down the adjacent house trailers.

A Gresham Fire Department crew member puts out hot-spots after the fire is extinguished in this mobile home.

“Once the fire was extinguished, fire investigators surveyed the scene, but have not released a cause yet,” Chatman informed. “The fire was contained to that mobile home, but the damage was significant.”

American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter volunteers helped find temporary shelter for two displaced residents.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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