Oxygen-using smoker sets trailer ablaze

See how the resident was saved from a certain fiery death …

Six Portland Fire & Rescue crews respond to a mobile home court to fight an outer East Portland trailer ablaze.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

All that remains of the travel trailer which – until the morning of December 1 – was home to a 70-year-old man, is just a burned-out shell. The fire was spotted and reported just after 9:00 a.m. that morning.

The resident, who fire officials said was using therapy oxygen in the trailer in the Shady Lane Mobile Home Park on S.E. Henderson Street, just west of 82nd Avenue of Roses, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, escaped death when a neighbor pulled him from his smoke-filled, burning trailer.

A singed power line, falling on the metal trailer, complicated the firefighting efforts, says PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Tyler.

“The neighbor that rescued the resident stated that he initially tried to put out the fire, but it became so big so fast that he knew he and the victim needed to get out,” reported Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Tyler.

The first fire crew to arrive, from Lents Station Engine 11, reported seeing flames and smoke coming from all of the trailer’s windows and doors as they pulled up, Tyler told East Portland News at the scene.

“Firefighters had to back off, after a power line fell on the unit, electrically energizing the metal trailer,” added Tyler.

With the electric power line safely out of the way, firefighters can return to extinguishing the blazing trailer.

A firefighter hooks up a “Class A Foam” unit, which is used to put out hot spots.

“Fire crews protected a nearby structure and other trailers from fire exposure with water, until PGE cut the power,” said Tyler as he pointed out the coiled electrical power line at the side of the street.

The man was rushed to a local hospital in stable condition, Tyler revealed.

“PF&R Arson Squad Investigators determined that this fire was caused by smoking while on home-therapy oxygen,” Tyler said. “The fire ignited when the victim lit a match, which started the fire in the enriched oxygen environment inside the trailer.”

If neighbors hadn’t pulled the man from his burning trailer, he likely would have perished in the blaze, officials say.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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