Powellhurst-Gilbert ‘squatter palace’ house burns – twice

See why neighbors say they’d be happy if this “vacant” house were bulldozed to the ground …

Firefighters hike in to fight a fire at what neighbors say is an abandoned house in Powellhurst Gilbert. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton
The ramshackle, abandoned house at 11207 SE Powell Boulevard has been a real neighborhood nuisance for some time, neighbors say.

“We stay away from it, but we think druggies have been living there,” confided Jason Greenhorn, as he watched Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters attend the second fire at the same house in two days. “I’m not hoping anyone is hurt – but I sure wish it were knocked down and the brush cleared.”

When the first fire call went out on December 7, at about 3:00 p.m., the PF&R crew from Station 11 in Lents rolled up and saw flames leaping from the back of the building.

Trying to fight the intense fire from inside, crews are withdrawn as the structure becomes unstable. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Within minutes, crews from Station 7 and Station 19 joined them to fight the blaze. Crews checked the house and found that no one was inside.

“After an initial interior attack by firefighters, it was determined that building structure was compromised,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Paul Corah. “Firefighters were ordered by Incident Commander Captain Jesse Scroggins to withdraw from the house, and extinguish the fire from a defensive position, for their own safety.”

Although PF&R investigators haven’t yet released the cause of the fire, the neighbors are quite sure it was caused by the squatters that they say were living there.

Now withdrawn outside, firefighters pour water into the structure to douse the flames. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Fire was reported on December 8 at 8:03 a.m. – at the same house. “It was a full fire response,” Corah told us. “This, again, sent crews from stations 11, 7 and 19 to the location.”

Damage to the house was estimated at $12,000 after the first fire, Corah added, and the estimate will likely be increased after the second blaze.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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