Wind fans blaze that rips through Centennial Home

See why more than just the strong breezes made this outer East Portland house fire very difficult to fight …

The east wind fanning the blaze that sets his outer East Portland house on fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton
Just as they finished breakfast at Station 31 – the firehouse shared by Portland and Gresham – the Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crew had to jump into their rig and head out – just before 9:00 a.m. on January 24.

Other PF&R stations rolled to join Engine 31’s crew, who arrived on-scene at 1520 SE 152nd Avenue, a block away from Parklane Park in the Centennial neighborhood.

The flames are intense, especially where a broken gas line continues to fuel the fire. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Engine 31 reported seeing flames and smoke issuing mostly from the structure’s garage, but also from the roofline,” said PF&R spokesman Ron Rouse. “Strong winds also caused the fire to spread outside of the home.”

Firefighters were also concerned when they saw “flames shooting out of natural gas pipe,” Rouse added. “It’s still unknown how the gas line ruptured.”

Some crews hooked up water lines while other firefighters made sure all of the occupants were out of the blazing structure.

Firefighters begin attacking the blaze. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“It appears if the fire started in the area of the garage,” Rouse told East Portland News. “In addition to a busted gas line, firefighters had to deal with acetylene tanks that were located inside the garage. Acetylene gas is commonly used in cutting torches and can reach extreme temperatures when mixed with oxygen.”

The spewing gas, coupled with brisk winds, appeared to have pushed the fire up, into, and across the attic of the house.

The fire spreads from the garage, into the attic. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Fire crews had to open up the roof to extinguish the attic fire,” Rouse said. “They had to be extra careful because the winds will cause the fire move quicker, causing firefighters to chase the fire.”

With the fire now out, the holes cut in the roof by firefighters to extinguish the fire in the attic are clearly visible.

Two male occupants were displaced by the fire; the homeowner was treated for mild smoke inhalation at the scene but was not transported.

A fire investigator is determining a cause and making the damage assessment.

> Front page photo by Dick Harris, PF&R

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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