Man dead in Parkrose Heights house fire

Fire investigators haven’t yet declared the cause of this deadly outer East Portland blaze, but explosions inside the house heard by neighbors were likely caused by oxygen bottles …

-1 Firefighters arrive in the Gateway District, on a narrow street near the San Rafael Shopping Center, to fight a fire that turned deadly.

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton

The sound of explosions – and the glare of flames – erupting from a house at 12025 NE Broadway (not street, avenue, or court) awoke Parkrose Heights neighbors early on Monday, November 6.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were dispatched at 4:07 a.m. to the street that runs west of the San Rafael Shopping Center. It’s narrow – and soon it was filled with four engines and two ladder trucks, staffed with four members each, accompanied by two Battalion Chiefs. A total of 26 individuals, all crowded in the street.

Arriving, crews quickly began working to put out the fire.

“The first arriving engine reported heavy fire from a front corner of the single-story residential home at 4:10 a.m.; the command officer directed an offensive fire attack to the exterior, to reduce the flames until an interior hose line could be put into place,” PF&R Public Information Officer and Harbor Master, Sean Whalen told reporters.

Firefighters sprayed water into the house, knocking down the fire substantially, while other crew members began searching the house for  potential victims. “A fire fatality was located in [the fire’s] ‘area of origin’, after the flames were extinguished,” reported Whalen.

Heat from the fire in the front room blew out the windows. PF&R image

“The confirmed fire fatality was a 66-year-old male, found in the room of origin, partially covered by furniture and some of the structure,” Whalen announced.

A surviving female resident escaped the fire, and was taken to a local the hospital with minor burn injuries and concerns about smoke inhalation.

Opening windows wasn’t enough to clear the structure of smoke; Ladder Company firefighters cut “vertical ventilation” holes in the roof to remove explosive gasses and heat from the attic.

The garage of this home, apparently converted into a room, seemed completely destroyed by fire. PF&R image

Portland Fire Investigation members sifted through the debris to search for the cause of the fire – not yet announced.

“Home oxygen bottles led to the reported explosions heard and reported to the dispatch center,” Whalen reported.

“And, there were no working smoke alarms found in the structure,” Whalen pointed out. “Smoke alarms do save lives; please take the time to check and replace all non-operational smoke detectors in your own residence.”

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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