Smoldering cigarette butt chars apartment building

Flames leaped from this Hazelwood neighborhood building, and it all started with a carelessly-discarded cigarette …

NE Glisan Street is filled with fire-fighting apparatus, as crews gather to fight a second-story deck fire at Glisan Commons.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Neighbors were shocked to see flames licking up the side of mixed-use building at 555 NE 100th Avenue, at about 9:30 p.m. on September 11.

“I looked out my window – and I can’t believe I’m seeing fire jumping up off of the patio, and climbing up the side of the building,” exclaimed Jenny Braddock, a nearby resident.

The crew with Portland Fire Engine 19 cranks up its pumps, supplying water to fight the blaze.

“The fire was starting to catch the trees and everything on fire. I was really worried that people; I think the old people to live there, [and I was scared they] would be burned alive,” Braddock told East Portland News.

The building, called Glisan Commons, is a five-story building with 67 units of affordable housing, as well as 16,000 sq feet of ground floor commercial space occupied by the non-profit Ride Connection.

Firefighters clamber up the extended ladder of Truck 25 as they fight the deck fire.

As the first Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) companies arrived, the Battalion Chief immediately called for a “Second Alarm” – bringing additional units, and more importantly personnel, to the building.

Calling in their “size-up” of the situation, firefighters at first thought that an unattended grill, on a balcony on top of the commercial part of the building, had been what touched off the blaze.

Ride Connection was closed for the weekend; and although the fire didn’t affect the apartment area, firefighters took the safety precaution of temporarily evacuating residents.

From above and on the deck, fire crews work to extinguish the blaze.

Climbing up on the extended ladder set up by Truck 25, from the Woodstock firefighters mounted the roof from the back side of the building, overlooking the patio.  Other crew members laddered up the front of the building, carrying up at least two water lines and temporary lighting.

It only took about 15 minutes to extinguish the conflagration that scorched the wall next to the deck, but fire crews remained on-scene for about two hours, making sure all of the embers had been extinguished.

Before long, residents – some dressed in bathrobes – were allowed to return to their apartments. According to a later PF&R press release, no injuries were reported with this fire and no tenants were displaced.

Firefighters look carefully, making sure all of the burning embers have been extinguished.

The following day, the Bureau said an Arson Squad Fire Investigator had determined that the fire started in a planter on the second-level deck, and that a discarded cigarette was the likely source of ignition. Damage was estimated at $10,000.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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