House fires keep crews hopping, during holiday weekend evening

Even while most folks were taking a three-day vacation, Portland Fire & Rescue crews were on duty, fighting fires – almost back to back. We have the photos

The intense flames make it hard to tell that what firefighters are trying to extinguish here is a mobile home fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton
Sunday evening, September 4, was a great time to light up the barbecue and flame-broil the evening’s dinner.

But for Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews, it was a very busy night – they were attending to flame-broiled houses – two residential fires in outer East Portland.
At 8:13 pm, PF&R firefighters responded to reports of a mobile home ablaze at 13045 SE Stark Street.

This intense fire keeps firefighters outside – attacking the flames from the doorway. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“The 9-1-1 caller indicated that someone was trying to kick the door down, and that there may have been individuals and pets trapped inside,” revealed PF&R spokesman Paul Corah.

“Upon arrival, firefighters from Station 7 found that the back side of the trailer home was involved in fire, and initiated an aggressive fire attack.” Corah said. “Additional firefighters arrived, and began stretching fire hose from SE Stark Street into the mobile home park, to supply crews with a water supply.”

Powerful lamps mounted on the fire rigs light up the scene, as firefighters work to evacuate smoke after extinguishing this fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Firefighters brought the fire under control at 8:35 pm. “Fortunately, it turned out that no one was home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported,” Corah added.
Later, we learned that PF&R fire investigators listed the cause of the fire as “a cigarette that was discarded in a home trash can”. The mobile home sustained $35,000 in damage.

Because this fire burned for some time before being reported, this house fire on SE 122nd Avenue was already raging as firefighters arrived on scene. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

A second fire broke out at 9:04 pm at 5704 SE 122nd Avenue.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a single-story home on fire, with flames leaping higher that the treetops.

“An individual was standing outside the home,” Corah said, adding that the firefighter/EMT crews found that the person had suffered severe burns. “A 62-year-old male received medical aid, and was transported to the Oregon Burn Center with life-threatening injuries.”

As the fire raged, and firefighters aggressively attacked the conflagration, an electrical power line dropped near the home, compromising firefighters’ safety, described Corah. “Crews took extra precautions while fighting this fire around the live electrical line, until Portland General Electric crews arrived to shut off power to the home.”

Packed to the ceiling with the victim’s goods, this house is loaded with “fuel” – touched off by a candle he’d used because his power had been cut off. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Investigators believe a birthday candle, used as a light source, caused the fire that destroyed the home. “The occupant of the house was reportedly trying to locate personal belongings with the candle – as a makeshift flashlight,” reported Corah. “The power to the residence had been disconnected the week prior. Reports indicate victim dropped the candle as it burned down to its end, igniting nearby papers.”

Investigators said the house had a substantial amount of clutter and high piled storage, which was a factor in the fire’s rapid growth and the level of structural damage.
Reports further indicate the occupant tried to put out the fire, Corah added, but he escaped the burning home after being injured. “The growing fire had a lead on responding crews, as the occupant did not have access to a phone to call 9-1-1.”

The fire rages into the night sky; firefighters struggle to contain the blaze. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

The fire was brought under control at 9:41 p.m.; the home is considered a total loss.

“With these significant residential fires today, Portland Fire & Rescue reminds citizens that working smoke alarms save lives,” said Portland Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Babcock. “Take a moment before you and your family go to bed tonight, and make sure there is a working smoke alarm in every sleeping area of your home.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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