Lents house fire proves fatal

Neighbors wonder why the ‘nice woman’ who lived in the small house died in the blaze …

Portland Fire & Rescue rigs fill this narrow Lents neighborhood street, after firefighters rush to combat a house fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Minutes before midnight on January 2, a small 710-square-foot, one-story house caught fire in the 4600 Block of SE 86th Court in outer East Portland, between SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Lents Park – south of Holgate Boulevard.

Within four minutes of the call going out at 11:48 p.m., Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews riding Lents Station Engine 11 and Woodstock Station Engine 25 came to a stop, facing one another, on the narrow street.

A firefighter clambers up to the roof of the house, in case it needs to be opened to allow hot gasses to escape. Note the melted siding on the house next door.

The crews reported to PF&R Battalion Chiefs arriving in the area that “heavy dark smoke and flames” were coming from the front windows of the residence, and they charged into the blazing structure, looking for victims.

Additional fire crews arrived; and while half of them began fighting the fire and securing additional water lines, other firefighters began a secondary search, still looking for people or pets potentially trapped in the house.

3 With the fire extinguished, crew members await orders.

“Fire crews quickly located and removed a victim but were unable to save her,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons. “The victim, a woman in her 50’s, was pronounced deceased on-scene.”
The fire burned so fiercely that the heat started melting the vinyl siding on the house next door.

“Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire, and keep it from extending to other structures, Simmons added.

After the deceased victim is located, the scene is cordoned off to keep evidence intact for Fire Investigators.

No firefighter injuries were associated with this fire. Portland Fire Investigators were called to determine the cause of the fire.

“I didn’t know her well,” neighbor Melissa Davis told East Portland News. “She seemed like a nice woman, and all of here on the street are so sad and shocked.”

Davis said she was surprised that her neighbor perished in the fire. “[Firefighters] got here so fast, and did their best to save her.”

Firefighters begin “overhaul”, taking out charred materials that could still contain live embers to rekindle the fire.

This fire is a good reminder to make sure all smoke detectors in your home are properly functioning, reminded Simmons. “And make sure you have escape routes planned.”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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