URGENT: Illegal â??Aerial Fireworksâ?? to blame for 4th of July fire in Southeast Portland

July 05, 2014 18:55

  

Illegal fireworks are to blame for a late evening fire that destroyed a Southeast Portland home last night.

Fire crews from Portland Fire & Rescue and Gresham Fire responded to the fire at 17024 SE Alder. The fire was one of many caused by illegal fireworks.

Fire Investigator Rob Garrison arrived at the scene early into the firefight and could see that an aerial firework had landed on the rear porch awning, igniting the fire that extended to the home and caused the larger fire.

As firefighters continued working to bring the heavy fire under control, several groups in the area continued to launch illegal fireworks, apparently with no regard to the safety of working firefighters or other area neighbors.

"I couldn't believe that while a fire caused by illegal fireworks was burning, less than 100 feet away, people kept launching illegal fireworks." Said Investigator Rob Garrison.

Investigators have confirmed that “Mortar” type fireworks, illegal under Oregon Law, ignited the fire. This was the first structure fire resulting from fireworks--though crews across the city report several firework related fires where rapid response by firefighters was able to prevent much greater losses.

Shortly after the fire started, investigators arrived in the neighborhood and began issuing citations. Operation “Lower the Boom”, now in its fifth year, places teams of firefighters and police officers into areas where illegal fireworks are being used. Investigators will be out again tonight--

Investigators are working to determine if those responsible for the fire were issued citations. When caught, the individuals responsible for the fire could face criminal charges and be civilly liable for the associated losses.

Anyone in possession of illegal fireworks faces fines in excess of $500. Illegal fireworks can be turned in, no questions asked, at any Portland fire or police station.

Every year, illegal fireworks cause fires and injuries throughout our city, state and nation--while the 4th of July is a time for celebrating--the cost of celebrating with illegal fireworks can be great:

In 2011, illegal aerial fireworks were responsible for a two-alarm fire at NE 17th and Alberta, displaced three businesses and caused over 1 million dollars in damage.

Last night's fire destroyed a home and the costs could have been even worse, between 2009 and 2013 fireworks caused more than 150 injuries in Oregon alone.

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Public Information Officer:
Rich Chatman
Rich.Chatman@portlandoregon.gov
Phone: 503-823-3902
Pager: 503-940-6003

55 SW Ash Street
Portland, OR 97204