Mt. Scott house fire destroys family’s possessions, hampers wedding dreams

Find out why the wake of destruction left by this blaze will scar this family, even though no one was injured when their unit in this multi-family dwelling was incinerated …

Looking up (south) from SE Brookside Street, SE 112th Avenue is clogged with emergency vehicles fighting a Mt. Scott area house fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What looks like a house from the street, located partway up the hill on SE 112th Avenue a bit south of SE Foster Road, was actually divided into a triplex. One of the units – in the northeast corner – looked as if it had been shelled, after a fire ripped through it on March 27, about 5:30 p.m.

Elliot Park, who lives nearby, said that the smoke erupting from the one-story structure was first gray, then thick, then black.  Finally, fire and flames started shooting out of the home’s windows.  “I thought maybe there was a bomb, or some type of explosion, because the front windows blew right out.”

Firefighters quickly extinguish the intense blaze that gutted this rental unit.

Within minutes, the crew from Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) Engine 11 rolled on-scene. “When they arrived, they saw heavy smoke rising from all windows, and fire coming out from the front,” PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt told us. “Other units, including crews from Station 25, came to the scene to assist. They were able to quickly extinguish the fire.”

Oswalt confirmed what we’d witnessed: The damage to the interior of the unit, and its contents, was extensive. “Firefighters pulled down sheet rock in the laundry room, looking for fire extensions, and they found none. There was no damage in the two attached units.”

As later reported by FOX-12 TV, Anita Harris and her family had been at a bridal shower when the fire broke out. Harris told a reporter that all that their possessions, including family photos and mementoes, were destroyed in the blaze – including the dresses for her matron-of-honor, bridesmaid, and flower girl, to be worn at her daughter’s April 10th wedding.

Although the building, itself, received little exterior damage – and the two housing units to the south were not affected – the interior of this residence was completely reduced to charred rubble. The other two “units” of the triplex are actually the two-story house behind the burned building.

“Disaster responders from the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter are assisting five adults, two dogs, and a bird displaced by the fire,” stated Red Cross spokesperson Natalie Middleton. “The team is providing the residents with assistance for lodging, food, and clothing.”

“The damage estimate has been set at $130,000,” Lt. Oswald said. “Investigators have not released the cause of this fire; it remains under investigation.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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