Mill Park blaze displaces homeowner and four renters

Find out why one resident tried to dash back into the inferno – and the other dangers the firefighters had to avoid while quenching this fire …

Even after firefighters spray water on them, flames continue to leap from this Mill Park home.

Story by David F. Ashton; photos by Dick Harris, Portland Fire & Rescue
At 6:27 pm on July 5, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews raced from Station 7 down SE Market Street from SE 122nd Avenue, and from blocks away they saw smoke from the house fire on S.E. 112th a block south of Market Street.

Firefighters attack the fire behind the home, where propane tanks are venting fumes, trapping some of the residents in the yard.

“Flames were pouring out the front of this house and the front door had been blown off, when Truck 7 pulled up to this fire,” said PF&R Lt. David Barron. “Firefighters encountered heavy black smoke and flames pouring from the front, side, and roof of the residence.”

Following their usual strategy, firefighters split duties; some began to aggressively attack the fire, while others searched for occupants.

“They found four people trapped in the back yard of the home,” said fire bureau Paul Corah, “where venting propane tanks and gas cans created a hazardous situation for firefighters and the trapped residents. Firefighters safely evacuated all four individuals.”

A total of five occupants were in the home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
“One occupant attempted to re-enter the residence while firefighters were actively fighting this fire, and was restrained by Portland Police,” Corah revealed. “They believe that person was trying to rescue their dog; it perished in the fire.”

Complicating the firefighting effort was the fact that the home was divided into four separate dwelling units, Corah added. Additionally, there was a shed that was being occupied as a dwelling unit in the back yard.

This photo, looking into the front window of the charred structure, vividly shows why this home is considered a “total loss” by fire officials.

Corah told us, “The home is determined to be a complete loss, valued at $148,000; Two vehicles were also damaged in the fire.”

Later, PF&R spokesman Lt. James Ziegler talked with fire investigators about their findings. “When the home was converted to individual living units, it appeared as if non-code electrical wiring was installed. Investigators said they believe it was this wiring that caused the fire; it’s ruled ‘accidental’.”

The American Red Cross, Willamette Chapter has assisted the five adults to find alternate living arrangements.
“Fires can strike at any time of the day or night,” reminded Ziegler. “Portland Fire & Rescue urges all citizens to have a home fire escape plan, and practice it regularly in case fire strikes your home.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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