Flames char vacated Gateway Elks Lodge

Officially, it’s not been determined either arson nor accidental; the cause of this blaze has yet to be announced …

Portland Fire & Rescue personnel puzzle just how to get into to fight a fire in the former Gateway Elks Club building.

By David F. Ashton
Photos by Dennis Weis, PF&R

A fire, supposedly at NE 100th Avenue and Glisan Street, sent Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews there at 2:14 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13. But, first-arriving crews found no sign of fire there, or in the parking lots at the intersection.

But, firefighters did see a column of smoke just to the north, so they headed that way – to the fenced-off former Gateway Elks Lodge building, along NE 99th Avenue, just south of Pacific Street.

For decades, this Elks Club was a hub of community activities. However, as the membership declined, their property got little apparent care. The building and its 3.61 acre property were sold in January 2015 to the David Douglas School District.

This now-disused property was bought in January of 2015 by the David Douglas School District for $3,800,000. Sometime later, the perimeter of the property was fenced off –which is what made it difficult to get into for PF&R crews. They spotted a work crew inside the fenced area – and smoke nearby.

“There was grey smoke pushing out from an HVAC vent on the west side of the structure,” A PF&R spokesperson later explained.

The crew riding PF&R Parkrose Training Station #2’s Ladder Truck descend from the roof.

Crews learned that this 13,000-square-foot multi-story and oddly-divided structure, built in 1973, now is used to store office furniture, so it had potential to have an increased fire load.

The first-arriving chief took command and directed a crew to force open a door on the south side of the building, and find where the fire was on the inside of the structure.

It’s “all-in for search” of the building, for the firefighters at the scene.

Inside, crews saw that the smoke was going up and out of the building through the existing holes in the HVAC system. The firefighters heard the fire before they saw the location. The fire was extinguished minutes after they found it.

As the fire was being extinguished, firefighters made their way through the maze-like building several times, making sure nobody had been trapped in the structure. Nobody had.

After having snaked their hose lines throughout the building, crew members begin the chore of packing up after the fire is out.

The fire in the old building is still under investigation by the Portland Fire Investigations Unit.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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