Parkrose townhouse BBQ blaze sends victim to hospital

See why fighting this fire was difficult – and the heat of the day didn’t make things any easier. Sadly, as so often happens, it looks like this fiery tragedy could have been easily avoided …

Fire lights up the skyline as Portland Fire & Rescue crews scramble on the rooftop – three stories high – to quench a fire threatening this complex of condos, tucked up against I-84 in Parkrose. This, and the front page photo by Dick Harris/PF&R

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton
Fortunately, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Station 2, located a half-mile north of the fire call, on NE 122nd Avenue, didn’t have far to go, on the evening of Sunday, August 14.

The fire call came in at 9:14 p.m. But, when the first crew arrived three minutes later, they could already see they had their work cut out for them. The condo development is tucked against Interstate 84, at on NE Fremont Street at NE 121st Avenue, serviced by a steep, winding driveway.

Firefighters first at the scene, from PF&R Truck 2, prepare to spray water on the flames leaping above the roofline, from the rear deck of the unitDick Harris/PF&R photo

PF&R Truck 7 firefighters race up their extended ladder to help extinguish the blaze and save other nearby units.

“The first arriving crews reported heavy smoke and large amounts of fire showing through the roof of a multi-unit townhouse building,” revealed PF&R spokesperson, Kim Kosmas. “A second alarm was requested shortly after their arrival.”

Crews on PF&R Truck 2 and Truck 7 extended their ladders to dizzying heights to drench the burning units, and protect the surrounding condo townhomes. As the fire raged, eight engine and five truck companies made their way to the scene, shutting down NE 122nd Avenue from NE Shaver to NE San Raphael throughout the evening.

Although firefighters had extinguished the blaze well before midnight, crews were still working on-scene into the early morning hours, dousing hot spots to make sure the fire wouldn’t again flare up.

“A ‘fire watch’ was in place throughout the night,” Kosmas added. “The damages to building and contents are estimated at over $250.000.”

Well past midnight, fire crews are on scene, making sure the fire doesn’t rekindle.

Costly in damages, not human life
“A 40-year-old male was transported to an area hospital for injuries sustained in the fire,” Kosmas said.

“At first it looked as if two firefighters would also be transported to an area hospital for heat exhaustion, but they were treated at the scene.”

Says fire was avoidable
“The fire has been determined to be accidental; PF&R Investigators say ‘Improper disposal of coals’ caused of the fire,” Kosmas relayed.

“Please remember that the proper receptacle to use for hot ashes and coals should be a metal container with a lid. It should also be placed away from any combustible materials including wooden decks,” Kosmas cautioned.

This fire could have been avoided, officials say.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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