Two fires, one deadly, in outer East Portland

Officials say a working smoke detector might have saved the victim’s life …

It’s difficult for firefighters to reach this house on fire, tucked in between a storage center and triplex apartments. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

Firefighters gladly endure working in stifling heat, freezing cold, on steep roofs, and in dingy basements, in their effort to save lives and property.

As tough as our Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews are, they’re deeply saddened when they can’t save a fire victim. This was the case at a house fire in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood on the evening of June 17.

With water lines in hand, firefighters make their way up to the burning house. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

While responding to another house fire call at 11:16 p.m. that evening, a crew saw a house ablaze at 9926 SE Division Street. As they stopped, they called in the fire, requesting additional crews to the scene.

“Some of the firefighters began searching the house for trapped occupants,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons. “Other crews were pulling water lines in and fighting the fire.”

Crews break out the ladders they’ll need to crawl into the second story of the burning house. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

A firefighter pauses, after bringing out a fire victim who could not be revived. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

An adult male escaped the blaze before firefighters arrived. But, firefighters found a woman still in the burning, smoke-filled building, and carried her out.

Emergency crews were unable to revive the woman, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Simmons reported. The man was taken by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center with non-life threatening issues related to the smoke.

Fire crews squeeze into the narrow alley between multifamily housing units and the burning house. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Several factors made this fire difficult to fight,” Simmons said. “There was a downed power line, limited access, and other houses in close proximity that were also damaged by the rapidly spreading fire.”

With the assistance of additional firefighters, the fire was soon under control.

A PF&R Investigator works to locate the seat of the fire, and perhaps determine the cause. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of this fire,” Simmons said. “Investigators observed that there were no working smoke alarms in the house.”

There is no reason not to have working smoke alarms: Anyone who needs help obtaining or installing working smoke alarms in Portland can simply call PF&R’s “Smoke Alarm Hotline” at (503) 823-3752.

Deck fire chars three Hazelwood apartment units

It is not the deck ablaze on this unit that concerns firefighters – it’s the flames leaping into the unit and the roof that cause apprehension. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Reports of a wooden deck on fire brought a multi-unit call out of firefighters earlier in the week, on June 15, at 3:00 p.m., to an apartment building at 14021 SE Stark Street.

Within minutes, police shut down SE Stark Street to protect water lines and firefighters, as they starting fighting this conflagration.

“When the first crews arrived, they spotted fire on a balcony spreading into an apartment, and into the building’s attic,” revealed Lt. Simmons.

Firefighters cutting open to roof to gain access to the attic are met by flames, shooting out of the new opening. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

A search of the building made certain that all of the occupants had evacuated the building.

“Fire crews were able to quickly knock down the fire in the apartment and on the balcony, but the attic fire proved stubborn, and took longer to quench,” Simmons said.

Still working on the deck, fire crews make sure embers don’t reignite this apartment building fire.

Three apartments were heavily damaged due to the fire, displacing three adults and one child.

“A fire investigator is on-scene working to determine the cause of this fire,” Simmons told us. “Damage estimates aren’t yet available.”

> On our Front Page: Official PR&R photographer Dick Harris captures fire crews in action.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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