Three fires threaten Powellhurst-Gilbert homes within 24 hours

None of the fires were related, and no fireworks were involved – but these blazes did keep Portland Fire & Rescue crews hopping in outer East Portland …

A fire – the first of three in the same 24 hours, in Powellurst-Gilbert – started in the garage of this condo unit, and quickly spread to the structure. PF&R photo by Greg Muir

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Within 24 hours, and all within seven miles on each other, three residential fires – one on the evening if July 1, and two on the afternoon of July 2 – charred homes and kept firefighters busy, throughout the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

July 1 at 9:46 p.m.
Condo garage fire injures one

Illuminated by flashing emergency lights, these firefighters spray water into the still-smoldering garage. PF&R photo by Greg Muir

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were dispatched to a fire that started in the garage of a condominium unit, and spread.

Because of their computer-aided mapping system, crews were able to navigate directly to the fire in the 6400 block of SE 128th Avenue; although the addresses of these row houses were actually platted on SE Foster Road.

Preliminary reports suggested that firefighters had rescued a person from the burning home; a neighbor clarified that the man was sitting in the front yard when firefighters arrived. Nonetheless, the man was taken to a local hospital, and is said to be in serious condition with burns in his upper body.

Firefighters re-enter the residence, which is still filled with smoke.

Another person who was in the affected condo, reportedly the man’s sister, received medical care at the scene and did not require a trip to the hospital.

With firefighters reporting “the smell of fuel”, the PF&R Battalion Chief called Fire Investigators to the scene.

“The person that our crews helped from the scene was a male in his 60’s, who was working on the motor of his car in the garage, when the fire started,” PF&R Public Information Officer Terry Foster later told East Portland News. “PF&R Investigators determined that this fire was accidental, and human-caused.”

July 2 at 5:57 p.m.
Blaze chars apartment

As PF&R equipment fills the street a block north of SE Powell Boulevard, and northbound SE 122nd Avenue is closed to traffic.

When a unit caught fire in Briarwood East, an apartment complex owned and operated by Human Solutions at 3302 SE 122nd Avenue, PF&R crews responded.

From the 12 trucks and engines dispatched, the first to arrive were the PF&R Mill Park Station 7’s Engine and Ladder Truck Companies of firefighters.

Using a chainsaw, a PF&R trainee cuts away the charred eaves of the roof.

“There was heavy fire blowing out of the front of the building when crews arrived,” PF&R’s Foster reported. “Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly, before it could extend to other apartments, or into the attic space.”

Although the interior of this apartment unit was gutted, firefighters put out the blaze before it torched the roof or set additional dwellings on fire.

This was a “room and contents” fire of an apartment, said Foster. “A PF&R Fire Investigator responded; however, a cause has not been reported to at this time.”

At this fire, PF&R trainees from Parkrose Training Station 2 also turned out and got on-the-job experience. One of them catches a bottle of water, while standing on the roof.

July 2 at 7:16 p.m.
Electrical problem blamed for house

On the east side of the Kelly Butte Natural Area at 3105 SE 109th Avenue, once again in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, a third fire was reported.

A fire that started in the lowest level of this home spreads heat and smoke through the entire structure. PF&R image

Of the dozen PF&R trucks and engines dispatched to this fire, the first rig to arrive was the Lents Station 11 Engine Company. Those firefighters reported to dispatchers seeing smoke arising from the daylight basement of this rental house.

The fire didn’t char the entire home. While some firefighters were putting out the fire on the lowest level, crews who were assigned to search the house reported “lots of heat upstairs”. In fact, as seen through windows, it looked as if some of the main floor ceiling had been torn open, as crews looked for hidden fire between the floors.

A firefighter talks with a PF&R Investigator after the fire has been extinguished.

“The cause is still under investigation, but it appears to be electrical,” PIO Foster confirmed. “There were no reports of injuries.”

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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