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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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UPDATED NEWS RELEASE 11/10/09: Marysville Elementary School Three Alarm Fire

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On November 10, 2009 at about 11:40 a.m., Portland Fire & Rescue responded to a structure fire at Marysville Elementary School in SE Portland, Oregon. Within a matter of minutes, Portland Police assisted teachers and staff in evacuating all the children.  Two adults were transported for minor smoke inhalation.  No children were injured. All 460 students and 17 teachers were evacuated to the Holgate Public Library.  

The fire spread rapidly through the structure and in the attic spaces.  Portland firefighters used very aggressive tactics including "trench cuts" and interior operations in an effort to limit fire spread.  Trench cuts, which are holes cut in the roof, spanned the entire attic space.  Trench cuts direct fire and smoke out of the attic space instead of allowing the fire and smoke to spread throughout the entire structure. The aggressive attack on the fire allowed firefighters to save most of the building.

Approximately 100 firefighters were called to fight the fire.  Also dispatched were four trucks, 12 engines, one heavy rescue, one rescue, and six chief officers.

Preliminary damage estimates include $2,750,000 in building damage and $1,500,000 in contents damage.

Clackamas Fire District #1 and Gresham Fire Department provided companies to respond to calls from Portland stations left vacant by crews at the scene of the fire.

Portland Fire & Rescue investigators, along with agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, investigated the cause and source of the November 10th fire at Marysville Elementary School. They finished the on scene portion of the Marysville School fire investigation on November 14th and released the building back to Portland Public Schools.

Approximately 100 witness interviews were conducted along with two full days of digging and searching for the fire cause and origin. Fires of this magnitude are labor intensive and require extensive information gathering. This was a devastating fire that has deeply affected the community. While tremendous progress has been made, PF&R is unable to provide a fire cause at this time.

The fire remains under investigation.

Investigators are specifically asking for help in gathering photos of the Discovery Zone building.  If you have photos of the Discovery Zone building taken within the last year (from the inside, outside, or from any angle) or you have any other information you feel would be of value to investigators, please contact (503) 823-3791. This phone number will be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can leave a message after hours and they will return your calls.

November 13, 2009

SafetyTIPS: How to Survive a Fire in a Crowded Place

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How to Survive a Fire in a Crowded Place

If you're planning to attend a celebration during this holiday season, will you be able to get out safely should a fire unexpectedly erupt while you're busy celebrating?  It’s important to give thought to the possibility that trying to get out of a crowded place in an emergency could instantly become a matter of life and death.

If you haven't, now is the time to be prepared for that kind of emergency:

  1. As soon as you get to your designated place, familiarize yourself with where all of the exits are. Don't just glance in the direction of the exits. Actually walk the path to at least one of those exits from where you will be standing or sitting. Remember, the power will likely go out from the fire. The possibility of becoming disoriented in the dark or from smoke inhalation is extremely high. It's crucial that you know in which direction to hurry to as soon as a fire erupts.
  2. Wear non-flowing clothing and practical shoes. Keep any laces tied to prevent tripping.
  3. Don’t stop to collect your possessions (e.g., purse, clothing, shoes).  Leave them behind and get out!  Prevent getting knocked down at all costs.
  4. Should a stampede situation develop as celebration-goers surge for the nearest exit, turn in the direction of an alternate exit, such as the back door or a window you can throw a chair through if necessary to make your escape.
  5. Take care when negotiating staircases, ramps and elevated flooring. The force of a moving crowd can become impossible to manage, causing you to trip, fall, and possibly be trampled.

For further tips to keep you safe in a crowded area, click here.


November 16, 2009

Fire Trivia: Fire Hydrants

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Each week, the Fire Blog will offer a trivia question and answer to boost your fire IQ:


Q:  Why are fire hydrants different colors?

Think you know the answer?  Post a comment and look for the answer on Monday!



A:  Most often fire hydrants are painted different colors to allow firefighters to quickly identify water pressure of any fire hydrant. The four basic colors are red, yellow, blue, and green.


 IMPORTANT INFO:  Keeping Fire Hydrants Clear – Keeps You Safe!


Citizens have a part in helping Portland Fire & Rescue to protect life and property by maintaining a safe zone of clearance around fire hydrants. By doing so, you save time that it could take firefighters to locate an obstructed hydrant and get water on a fire.   Just a few minutes spent looking for a fire hydrant can make a big difference in the outcome.

Here are some reminders:

  • Keep posts, fences, vehicles, shrubbery and vegetative growth, trash, storage, and other materials or objects at least 36 inches clear all the way around from fire hydrants.
  • When firefighters arrive on the scene of a fire, they have only minutes, sometimes seconds, to protect life and property.  It is very important that they have full unobstructed access to fire hydrants and connections.   
  • Landscaping as simple as shrubbery and objects as common as a garbage cart can block immediate access to fire hydrants and connections. 
  • The Municipal Code, City of Portland, Title 16L Vehicles and Traffic denotes that vehicles are not to be parked within 10 feet of a fire hydrant in any location.  It does not have to be posted by signs or by a yellow curb.

Questions?  Contact Portland Fire & Rescue at (503) 823-3700 or the Portland Water Bureau at (503) 823-7404.

November 16, 2009

And the Survey Says?

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The Office of the City Auditor released the results of the 2009 City of Portland Resident Survey.  The annual survey, mailed to 9,000 randomly selected Portland residents, provides a snapshot of how well the City of Portland is doing on a wide range of services. 

For the third year in a row, resident opinions of Portland Fire & Rescue remained high with 91% of those surveyed ranking PF&R’s services as good or very good – the highest rating of any City bureau.  The 755 members of Portland Fire & Rescue consider it a privilege to protect life and property in the City of Portland and appreciate receiving this feedback from customers on our services. 

Click here to access a direct link to the report.

November 17, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 11/18/09: One Alarm Commercial Fire on SE Foster Road at Plumbing Supply Store

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Photos courtesy of Dick Harris, Portland Fire & Rescue

This morning at about 4:30 am, Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters responded to the report of smoke coming from a building on SE Foster Road. Engine and Truck 25 arrived two minutes later and reported smoke coming from the back side of the building. The fire had worked its way into the concealed spaces in the walls and between the ceiling and roof, making it difficult for firefighters to put it out. After about 40 minutes of cutting holes in the roof and pulling sheetrock on the inside of the building, firefighters were able to extinguish all the hot spots.

Firefighters have confirmed that no one was in the building and no injuries were reported.


Crews dispatched:  4:28 am

Crews on scene:  4:30 am

Fire controlled:  5:15 am

Recall:  5:28 am

Firefighters were called to fight the one alarm fire: 35

Engine companies: 5

Truck companies: 3

Heavy Squad: 1

Chief Officers: 3


SE Foster Road was closed between 50th and 52nd for 2 ½ hours and was reopened at 7:00 am just in time for most of the morning commuters.


Fire investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue are on scene and are working to determine cause of the fire.

November 18, 2009