Two-alarm fire chars Hazelwood building; other fires in Parkrose and Powellhurst-Gilbert

INCLUDES VIDEO | See how our outer East Portland firefighters have been busy this week, fighting blazes in commercial building, a converted bus, and a home …

Finding this office building is ablaze, firefighters work to save the building from total destruction.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A commercial building fire on Tuesday afternoon, July 11, and two early morning fires Thursday the 13th, kept Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters – from several outer East Portland stations – hard at work this week.

July 11 at 3:07 p.m.
Hazelwood office building blaze triggers “two-alarm” callout

Firefighters work, both in and out of the structure, to get the fire under control. PF&R image

When workers at the Rosewood Initiative saw thick clouds of smoke billowing from behind a nearby commercial office building the afternoon of June 11, at 14136 SE Stark Street, they called 9-1-1 to report it.

They, and others, worried that it could have been at the “Stevens Place Apartments” – actually on a flag lot behind the blazing building – that had caught fire.

A passing ambulance confirmed flames venting through a building’s roof.

-3 We can see the crews inside building, but the Ladder Truck Company firefighters are working on the roof.

Seeing the “header” – the column of dark smoke – rising as they approached the area, perhaps the Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters dispatched to the scene at 3:07 p.m. may have also thought it was the apartments on fire, but it wasn’t.

“The first arriving rig [PF&R Mill Park Station 7’s Ladder Truck Company] reported the structure appeared to be an office complex, with smoke and fire showing from the front of the building,” PF&R Public Information Officer Rick Graves confirmed.

See firefighters wrap up this fire, and hear about it from Portland Fire & Rescue’s spokesperson about what happened:

“The Command Chief arrived directed crews in an offensive fire attack, connecting to fire hydrants and stretching hose lines to be put in place inside. Along with that, the Chief directed Truck 7’s crew to perform a search of the building,” he added.

Neighbors said they have seen people lurking around the first floor, where this firefighter is located in the back of the building, facing the apartment complex.

Crews found the building to be unoccupied – a fact later confirmed by the building owner.

Fire was in the lowest floor, which was partially below grade in the split-level building, and the flames were extending into the second level. Crews started in the lower level, but the fire was already into the second level, and began to extend into the attic space.

“A second alarm assignment was requested because fire was quickly spreading throughout the attic, and pushing out at the eaves on three of the four sides of the structure,” Graves reported. “After the fire in the lower level had been extinguished, there was plenty of active fire in the second level and attic space.”

An arriving firefighter, saw in hand, prepares to head up on the roof to join others who are already opening “vertical ventilation” holes.

Ladder Truck firefighters used their power saws to cut open ventilation holes, to allow the trapped fire and smoke to escape. Inside, Engine Company crews were pulling ceilings down in the second level to gain access to the fire in the attic.

Dry vegetation stuck in the structure’s gutters catches fire along the eaves. PF&R image

Flames licking the rain gutters – filled with vegetation – also caught on fire; firefighters “rained” water down onto the roof to put out the gutter fires. The fire was under control in about 20 minutes, and was completely extinguished ten minutes later.

The fire clearly caused substantial damage to this building.

There were no injuries reported to any civilian or any firefighter. The fire investigator arrived to determine the cause; but so far  there has been no public announcement of that.

July 13 at 5:03 a.m.
Parkrose commercial fire starts in old bus

Firefighters put out a fire that somehow started inside a parked “tour bus” that was being used for storage. PF&R image

The commercial fire in the 11100 block of NE Sandy Boulevard started in a converted commercial bus being used as a storage unit. “Arriving crews fond the bus completely engulfed in flames,” Graves said. Behind the repair shop were a numerous storage units and cars: “The ‘nose’ of the bus was parked inches away from the structure, causing concerns for the crews on-scene.”

The PF&R Mill Park Station 7’s Ladder Truck Company crew puts out the fire on the roof of the shop. PF&R image

While crews shot water from hose lines onto the bus’s exterior, crews entered the nearby structure to see if any fire had made its way inside the building.

Firefighters in the shop encountered dark smoke, but little heat; so crews laddered up to the roof where they found a small fire burning the roof decking material – and extinguished those flames.

With a “Class A Foam” unit in hand, this firefighter puts out hot spots inside the bus. PF&R image

Then, firefighters focused their efforts on “overhauling” the charred bus – that is, pulling charred materials out, and hosing them down, to prevent the fire from reigniting.

No one was injured during this incident; the fire is still under investigation.

July 13 at 5:50 a.m.
Fire chars Powellhurst-Gilbert home

Seeing fire inside a room, arriving crews didn’t have to guess where the seat of the fire was, in this Powellhurst-Gilbert residence.

After being released from the auto shop fire, instead of returning their home station some PF&R companies were diverted to join others to fight a fire in the 12500 block of SE Bush Street.

“Arriving crews could see fire through the front windows of the home,” Graves said.

Working inside and out of the structure, fire crews put out the fire in this house quickly. PF&R image

The burning room was challenging to access due to “heavy interior clutter present”, as the Battalion Chief put it; but firefighters were able to put out the fire in less than ten minutes from when the incident was dispatched.

Inside the burned but unoccupied room, a firefighter is set to hose down hot spots. PF&R image

“There was some residual smoke trapped in the home that needed a few ceiling vents opened, and a fan placed at the front door, to eventually clear,” Graves said.

Again, no injuries were reported. It was another fire that is still under investigation.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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