Hazelwood resident escapes New Year’s Day blaze

Find out what saved this man from a tragic end, when fire raced through his outer East Portland home …

Portland Fire & Rescue rigs line up on SE Main Street to fight an early-morning house fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The New Year had a tragic start for a Hazelwood Neighborhood resident –fire raced through his home on New Year’s Day, before daybreak at 3:40 a.m.

When crews from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Mill Park Station 7 rolled up four minutes after receiving the call, they reported seeing “heavy fire showing in a front room” of the structure at 14021 SE Main Street.

“While Engine 7’s crew entered the house and began attacking the fire, Truck 7’s firefighters searched for victims,” recounted PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons for East Portland News. “Then, they cut a hole in the roof to ventilate flammable fire gases.

In the frigid predawn hours, firefighters race to extinguish a burning home. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“The man stated that he woke up to the sound of a smoke alarm,” Simmons added. “He opened his bedroom door, and saw that his exit was blocked by fire. The resident then closed the door and exited the blazing structure [through a window] before firefighters arrived.”

Fortunately, his was a ranch-style one-story home.

Firefighters look to make sure they’ve quenched the blaze, believed to have started in the front room. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Fire investigators examined the scene, and later determined that the fire was caused by lights in a Christmas tree,” Simmons commented. “Investigators estimate that the fire caused $25,000 in damage.”

But, PF&R investigators also said that the resident saved the portion of the house in which he had been sleeping by quickly closing the door.

Both by maintaining a working smoke alarm – and by the resident closing off part of the house to the fire – prevented his home from being a total loss.

“This also illustrates why we remind residents to have working smoke alarms in their homes, on every level, in all sleeping rooms, and outside every sleeping area,” Simmons said. “Without a working smoke alarm, this man might not have escaped.”

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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