Stubborn East Portland store blaze challenges firefighters

Here’s what’s been learned about a commercial fire, at the edge of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood …

SE Powell Boulevard is blocked off as firefighters fight to extinguish an outer East Portland commercial fire in a retail store.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A bit before noon on Thursday, February 25, heavy dark smoke began billowing from behind “Berry’s Southeast Coin & Jewelry” at 8119 SE Powell Boulevard. Moments later, many Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) stations were alerted and dispatched at 11:44 a.m. to that location.

With as many as 15 PF&R rigs parked along SE Powell Boulevard, traffic was blocked off on Powell between SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and 81st Avenue.

Firefighters ladder up to the roof of the store, taking care to avoid the nearby downed electric power lines.

The Engine Companies of PF&R Lents Station 11 and Woodstock Station 25 arrived simultaneously, and the crew of Lents’ Engine 11 was designated the “pumper truck”, to which firefighters hooked up their water supply lines and pulled hoses.

Other firefighters pried open the store’s front steel security door and searched inside for victims, taking a water hose line in with them.

Laddering up to the roof of the one-story block building, to fight the blaze that appeared near the rear of the structure, was the crew of Woodstock Station 25’s Truck Company firefighters.

Prying off the roofing allowed these firefighters to drench the fire inside.

PF&R Mill Park Station 7’s Ladder Truck Company stood by, with its aerial ladder extended over an apartment building just west of the involved structure, in case the fire were to spread. In the end that precaution was not needed, because fast work had contained the fire to the building of origin.

Complicating their efforts, an electrical power supply line had burned off, falling to the ground during the firefighting effort.

Battling the flames both on the roof at the rear of the building, and on ground level, firefighters pulled up shingles, and sprayed water on burning debris inside for nearly an hour.

Fire crews spray water on the stubborn fire at ground level at the back of the store.

Eventually, a PF&R Fire Investigator arrived at the scene and began an investigation.

“No injuries reported,” was all that we officially learned from an unnamed PF&R official. More than likely, this fire is still under investigation.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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