Flames ravage ‘clutter house’ in Lents

Firefighters had to use great care in working their way through this home, to battle an outer East Portland house fire. Here’s what we’ve learned …

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters pull water hose lines in through the front and back of this Lents house before making their way through its cluttered halls.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Neighbors near a residence at 3656 SE 86th Avenue, just north of Eastport Plaza, called the 9-1-1 Center to report “smoke, and perhaps flames” from the house – and, perhaps an elderly man trapped inside – on Sunday afternoon, March 20.

Ten Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) units were dispatched at 4:23 p.m.

PF&R crews formulate a plan to make sure the fire has been completely extinguished inside this Lents house.

Just three minutes after being dispatched, the crew of PF&R Lents Station Engine 11 arrived and reported back to dispatchers seeing “light gray smoke from the eaves”. The reporting lieutenant radioed that they were attacking the fire in “offensive mode” – that is, moving in with a water hose line through a forced-open door.

The heat inside was intense enough to cause several windows to shatter or blow out.

Within the next four minutes, all of the dispatched rigs and crews had arrived. Some firefighters searched the smoke-filled interior looking for potential lives to save, while other crew members fought the blaze.

Out at the street, a firefighter sprays down smoldering debris that had been dragged from the house.

It didn’t take long for crews inside the house to report that they were “getting knock-down on the fire now, but it’s not out” — and reported a substantial amount of clutter inside the home.

Another firefighter told the Battalion Chief that they bringing a water line into the house through the garage, to get at the section of fire that they couldn’t reach from the front.

A crew member heads back inside with equipment that dispenses Class A foam –that’s water treated with chemical that helps it penetrate charred material.

After the main fire has been knocked down, crews begin overhaul operations – searching for hidden fires or smoldering materials that could rekindle, such as this cabinet being ejected through a window.

The lone resident was reportedly standing outside the house when crews arrived; and told firefighters that he’d been alone inside. He refused medical care.

Although the main fire was extinguished in about ten minutes, crews headed back in to start pitching smoldering items out of the windows, and wetting down embers inside, using Class A foam.

“This small fire that was extinguished quickly,” later confirmed PF&R Public Information Officer Terry Foster. “Some of the challenges that were faced was that the house was very cluttered and made extinguishment challenging for crews. The individual that lives there did get out safely without injury,” he added.

Asked if there is a “Fire Safety Message” here, Foster told East Portland News, “Plan for the fire before it happens, know your escape routes and make sure they stay clear of debris. Also, check your smoke detectors monthly!”

After turning down medical care, the resident stands outside, and watches as firefighters continue to put out the fire in his house.

PF&R contacted the American Red Cross Cascade Chapter to find temporary housing, clothing, and supplies for the resident.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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