‘Non-working’ stove burner fire damages SE 68th Ave. home

The stove burner didn’t work, they said – but find how much damage this kitchen fire caused, when kitchen grease ignited …

Firefighters pull equipment off their truck. Because it occurred during the day – when the residents were awake, and in the house – tragedy was averted when a stove burner, thought to be out-of-commission, set this home’s kitchen on fire.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The alarm sounded at 1:04 p.m. on June 15 – and Portland Fire & Rescue’s Station 25 crew answered the call, and headed for a house in the 7800 block of SE 68th Avenue; they arrived in four minutes.

Even though we arrived on scene just minutes after the emergency dispatch hit the airwaves, firefighters had already extinguished the blaze, and were removing burnt debris from the house.

“When we arrived, we found a kitchen fire,” said Lt. Phil Loving, who was riding with Engine 25. “It got a bit out of control and into the cabinets. We had it extinguished quickly, but there was a lot of smoke damage.”

Said stove burners didn’t work
Lt. Allen Oswalt, fire department spokesman, reported the exact cause of the brief blaze that did $45,000 worth of damage to the home.

“The homeowner said that only two of the four burners on the electric stove worked – and he stored pots, with grease in them, on the non-working burners,” Oswalt reported. “The fire started in a pan left on the left rear burner that supposedly didn’t work. The stove was unattended.”

Although damage was limited to the kitchen area, smoke made the Inner Southeast home uninhabitable, and the destruction was estimated at $45,000.

Basic fire safety rules ignored
Oswalt said that, fortunately, no one was injured, and the fire damage was limited.

“Two of the most important rules of preventing a house fire were ignored in this incident: Never leave anything unattended on the stove, and always make sure you have a working smoke detector,” warned Oswalt.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires across the country, he added. “And, we’ve all heard of the tragedies that happen every year – people dying needlessly in house fires. In this instance, what if the fire had occurred while the occupant was sleeping? With no working smoke alarm, the outcome could have been deadly!”

It’s a wrap! Firefighters pick up their hoses after putting out the kitchen fire.

Cheap and easy protection
Smoke alarms are cheap and easy to test, the bureau spokesman went on. “If you don’t have one, there is a smoke detector hotline (503) 823-3752: If you qualify, PF&R will provide one and install it. How easy is that?”

He added that for renters, the landlord is required by law to provide a working smoke alarm at the time of lease signing. It is the renter’s task to test it and make sure it works, however.

“Fire safety is your responsibility,” Oswalt concluded. “Don’t let you or your loved ones become a statistic!”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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