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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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NEWS RELEASE 12/05/09: Fire Investigators Arrest Occupant In Apartment Fire

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Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to an apartment fire on SW Morrison at 3:29 pm on December 4, 2009.  When fire crews arrived at 3:31 pm, they found dark smoke coming from a third story apartment window. The firefighters immediately entered the building and extinguished the fire. The sprinkler in the apartment had been activated by the heat of the fire and had helped contain the fire. The fire was under control at 4:01 pm.

Firefighters received information that an explosion may have occurred that started the fire.  Fire investigators were called to investigate the origin of the fire.  Fire investigators conducted an investigation of the apartment. The fire was in apartment #410 and the occupant, David Lee Meacker, who was home at the time of the incident, was arrested and charged with Arson I (1 count) and Arson I-Measure 11 (1 count).

Fire damage to the structure was $10,000 and the dollar amount for water damage, due to an activated sprinkler head, is unknown at this time. Meacker was lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center and will be arraigned on Monday, December 7, 2009.  His bail was set at $300,000.

PF&R response included:

  • 4 engines
  • 2 trucks
  • 1 heavy rescue
  • 1 rehab
  • 5 fire investigators
  • 3 fire chiefs
  • 1 Public Information Officer
  • 1 AMR Medic
  • 39 PF&R firefighters

December 5, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 12/06/09: Improperly Installed Fireplace Causes House Fire

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Portland Fire and Rescue (PF&R) recently responded to two residential house fires that involved fireplaces.  One of those fires was caused by improper fireplace installation.

At 2:57 am on December 6, 2009, PF&R responded to a residential fire on SE 158th Avenue.  When fire crews arrived at 3:02 am, they found fire in the attic near the chimney and under the fireplace insert. Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire and the fire was under control at 3:32 am. Wood frame members being exposed to the chimney and fireplace insert heat over a long period of time was the origin of this fire.

At 11:37 am, PF&R responded to a residential fire on SE Long Street.  When fire crews arrived at 11:40 am, they found a small fire in the crawl space near the fireplace.  Fire crews quickly extinguished the fire with a water extinguisher and the fire was under control at 11:46 am.  The origin of this fire was caused by an improperly installed woodstove.

Both fires were deemed accidental.

The weather has gotten very cold and citizens may be looking for more economical ways of heating their homes.  While a wood-burning fireplace maybe a good option, the fireplace, fireplace insert, and/or woodstove must be installed following the manufacturer's recommended installation specifications.  The best option is to have a professional install the fireplace.

Fireplaces can produce both high levels of heat and sustained heat for a long period of time that can cause wood frame members to ignite.  In the case of the second residential fire, the wood floor was too close to the bottom of the woodstove and caused the wood to first char and then ignite over a long period of time.  The other safety concern is that all chimneys need to be cleaned on a regular basis.  Chimney fires can cause attic fires due to the high level of heat coming off the chimney near wood frame members in the attic.

Click here for simple tips from PF&R's Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Jones on how to safety heat using alternative heating sources in your home (chimney, wood, coal, and pellet stoves).

December 6, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 12/07/09: Fireplaces Cause Three House Fires in Two Days

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At 5:14 am, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to a residential fire on SE 79th Ave.  When fire crews arrived at 5:17 am, they found smoke coming from the house. Fortunately, all occupants were out of the house and fire crews immediately began an interior attack on the fire. The fire had gotten into the walls and attic of the home, which made firefighting operations difficult. The cold weather caused water sprayed on the fire to freeze, which made walking on sidewalks and the street extremely hazardous. After chasing the fire down in the attic, and having part of the roof collapse, fire crews had the fire under control at 6:22 am. 

 

Fire investigators determined that the fire was caused by the fireplace.  Heat from the fireplace had caused the wood frame members to char over time and then ignite this morning. The residents, who had been using the fireplace as their primary source of heat over the last couple of days, hung blankets in the passageways to keep the heat in the utilized portion of the home.  The working smoke detectors were in the rooms blocked off from the fire and the residents were fortunate to escape the fire without injuries.  This fire was deemed accidental. 

PF&R recommends that you have a working and tested smoke detector in all rooms where you are sleeping because they are your first warning of a fire while you are sleeping.

 

December 7, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 12/08/09: PLEASE Be Careful With Heaters and Fireplaces!

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Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to four MORE house fires on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.  Three of the four were related to the cold weather.  All of the fires were a single alarm which brings four engines, one truck, one rescue unit, 27 to 30 firefighters, two chiefs, and two investigators.  Due to the extreme weather, a "Rehab Unit" was called for each fire.  The Rehab Unit brings all the necessary tools and space to effectively monitor and care for firefighters health on scene.

At this time no injuries were reported at any of the fires.

At 0808: Crews responded to NE Morris on the report of a garage fire.  First-arriving crews found an attached garage involved in heavy fire, which was extending into the attic of the house. Total Value: $205,000 with a loss of $100,000. Cause: Overloaded electrical wiring which attached to a heat lamp in a chicken coop by the garage.

At 1152: Crews responded to NE 43rd on the report of a residential fire. Crews quickly knocked down an exterior fire. Value/Loss undetermined at this time.  Cause: Propane Heater too close to siding of house. The heater was being used to keep pipes from freezing.

 
At 1344: Crews responded to NE Church on the report of a residential fire.  Crews found a 1 1/2 story residence with a large volume of fire showing.  The fire did heavy damage to the house. Value/Loss undetermined at this time.  Cause: Combustible materials too close a portable heater.

At 1647: Crews responded to NE 107th Place. Crews found a one-story residence with dark gray smoke coming from the eaves and roof vents.  They found a kitchen fire which extended up the stove vent and into the attic area.  Value: $275,000 with a loss of $25,000.  Cause: overheated cooking oil which ignited.

Safety Tips:

  • Keep combustible materials away from any heating devices: fireplace, wood stove, portable heater, furnace, or electric wall/baseboard heat units.
  • Portable heaters need plenty of space.  Make sure they have an automatic shut off if tipped over.
  • Electric portable heaters should only be plugged into a wall outlet.  DO NOT USE EXTENSION CORDS, especially one which is smaller than the cord on the heater itself.
  • Do not use propane or liquid-fueled heaters indoors, and never leave them running if you are not home.
  • Use a hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes.  Do not use torches or open flame devices to heat the pipes.
  • Never use charcoal-fueled devices to heat your house.  This is an extreme fire danger and gives off carbon monoxide, which is an odorless/tasteless gas and an invisible killer.
  • Never burn plastics or garbage in your fireplace or wood stove. These materials tend to burn quickly and can accelerate the intensity of a fire.
  • Clean you chimney once a year, or sooner if needed, and only burn seasoned fire wood.

December 9, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 12/08/09: Weather Continues to Complicate Response to Residential Fire

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Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) firefighters responded to a house fire on SE Taylor Street at just a little after 4:00 am on December 8, 2009. They arrived to find a large older home with fire racing through the inside and coming from the windows in the back. Firefighters learned from neighbors that the house was supposed to be vacant but that there was a lot of transient activity in the recent days. Conditions inside the house were not survivable when firefighters arrived and, because of the instability of the house, no firefighters were allowed to enter. Firefighters battled the fire, the freezing temperatures, and downed power lines in their efforts to control the fire and keep it from spreading to other houses.

Fire investigators were on scene.  Due to the structural damage and instability of the house, the fire investigators will further evaluate the house in the daylight.

PF&R response included:

  • 4 engines
  • 2 trucks
  • 2 chief officers
  • 2 investigators
  • 30 PF&R firefighters

82nd Avenue was closed for about three hours due to water supply hoses crossing the road. Once firefighters had picked up the hoses, the Oregon Department of Transportation was called to spray deicer and spread gravel on the water that had frozen on the road surface. It appears that 82nd Avenue will be open for traffic, both directions, at about 7:00 am.

December 8, 2009