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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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Lila the Arson Dog and Handler Report to Site of Suspicious Fire in West Oakland

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On June 14th, all that was left of a West Oakland, California construction site was some bent scaffolding, burnt drywall, and a concrete slab.  A huge fire destroyed the unfinished 119-unit Red Star Senior Apartments, causing an estimated $25 million damage.  Local investigators consider the fire suspicious.  A National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) was activated at the City of Oakland's request to jointly investigate the fire's cause and origin with local law enforcement agencies. 

According to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, "ATF's activiation of its National Response Team speaks to the seriousness of the fire that occurred in West Oakland, and the impact it had on thousands of Bay Area residents."  "It is our responsibility to do all we can to identify the cause of this fire, and bring the individuals who may be responsible to justice."  Helping in this effort was PF&R's own Lila, an arson canine, and her handler Lieutenant Fabian.

Lieutenant Fabian and Lila - a trained accelerant detection canine - are part of PF&R’s Arson Investigation Unit and the ATF's National Response Team.  In the case of the West Oakland fire, once the ATF’s National Response Team had scoured the site and structural engineers gave the go ahead, a team began to sift through the rubble for evidence.  The scene that Lieutenant Fabian and Lila processed was over a city block long; a lot of large equipment was required to get through the many layers of debris.  Lieutenant Fabian reports that, “Lila was trooper; she jumped right up on anything that needed to be investigated”.  The work was very tedious and the fire scene took close to a week to be processed. 

This is the ninth activation of the NRT in Fiscal Year 2012 and number 730 since the inception of the team in 1978.  The NRT consists of four teams organized geographically to cover the United States.  Each team can respond within 24 hours to work jointly with State and local law enforcement/fire service personnnel in onsite investigations.  Portland Fire & Rescue is proud to have such a highly trained pair working right here in the City of Portland. 

NEWS RELEASE 07/09/12: Portland Fire & Rescue Stop Vehicle Fire from Burning Down Home

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July 9, 2012

10:33 AM

Portland Fire & Rescue was dispatched at 7:15 this morning to a report of a vehicle fire at a home at 11832 SE Holgate Blvd. Engine 7(Mill Park) arrived first at 7:17 am and found a car fire that had begun to burn three other cars and a house. The house is on a flag lot and the home's power line had burned through and fallen onto the driveway which left only three feet of safe clearance to get to the fire and house. Firefighters pulled hose lines carefully down that driveway to ensure they did not get electrocuted and aggressively attacked the vehicle fire and the fire that had begun to burn the exterior of the house. Firefighters were able to stop the fire from getting into the house. The fire was under control at 7:42 am.

When firefighters first arrived, they also intended to check the house to make sure all the residents had evacuated. Firefighters found that all the residents had already been cleared out of the house by off-duty Portland Firefighter Paramedic William Earl. Earl was on his way to work when he saw the column of smoke and stopped to help. Earl quickly checked the house to ensure all residents had safely exited and then notified the in-coming firefighters that the house was clear. "Portland firefighters not only work hard to protect Portland resident's on-duty, but are also willing to help out in many ways while off-duty," said Battalion Chief Chris Babcock.

SE Holgate Blvd had to be shut down for approximately 30 minutes due to hose lines being connected to a hydrant across the street. Red Cross was called to assist eight adults and three children who were displaced by the fire.

Four vehicles, a residence and a fence were damaged by the fire for a total loss of $55,000. The house and vehicles were valued at $200,000. The fire cause is still under investigation. No injuries occurred to either firefighters or citizens.

NEWS RELEASE 07/09/12: Portland Fire & Rescue Utilizes New Extrication Tool at Vehicle Crash

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July 9, 2012

9:19 PM

Portland Fire & Rescue was dispatched at 2:14 this afternoon to a head-on traffic accident at 7098 N Marine Drive. Initial reports from bystanders were that an adult male was pinned inside his vehicle. Engine 22 (St. Johns) and Engine 26 (Portsmouth/University Park) arrived first at 2:26 pm and found a sedan with significant left front damage and a single driver in critical condition pinned in the driver seat. Firefighters were able to quickly remove both drivers' side doors with the standard issue Holmatro tools to gain better access. Firefighters then determined that the drivers' legs were trapped under the steering wheel and dash but did not appear to be entangled. The roof was removed using a combination of Holmatro cutters and the Hilti saw. Then firefighters decided to use the First Responder Jack and chain maneuver they recently learned in specialized extrication training to lift the steering wheel and dash off the patient's legs.

"This pin-in was our first opportunity to use the new Hi-Lift 1st Responder Jacks that were recently provided by the Shirlee Ann Fund," said Capt. Eric Pedersen. "It proved to be instrumental in freeing the victim."

Life Flight was initially called to assist in the transport of the patient to Emanuel Hospital. The incident commander later determined that the quickest transport would be by American Medical Response (AMR) Ambulance. A second stable male was also transported to Emanuel hospital by AMR. Both patients were being transported by 2:49 pm.

N Marine Drive was closed to all vehicular traffic during the extrication.

Fire Response:

3 Engines

1 Truck

1 Chief

NEWS RELEASE 07/11/12: Quick Response by Portland Fire & Rescue Contains Fire

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July 11, 2012

11:50 AM

Fire crews were dispatched to a house fire (5328 NE 38Th ave.) at 8:21 this morning. Station 14 (Vernon) arrived within 3 minutes, contained the fire to the garage, and suppressed it quickly. Crews from Stations 24 (Swan Island), 12 (Sumner), 28(Rose City), and 13 (Lloyd Center) were also on the initial response... but were released quickly to respond to other emergencies. "It's a good thing that we were able to arrive so rapidly, while the fire was still in it's incipient phase. A few more minutes and it would have spread to the walls", said Portland Public Information Officer Ron Rouse.

There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. There isn't a damage estimate at this time.

Response Info: 4 engines, 1 truck, 2 chiefs Dispatched 08:21

On scene 08:24

Are You Looking for a Fun Weekday Activity for the Kids?

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Then stop by the Belmont Firehouse and Safety Learning Center......

Every Wednesday from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, and on the second Saturday of every month, Belmont is open to the public.  Located at 900 SE 35th Avenue at SE Belmont, the firehouse provides a historic adventure that every child and family should experience. The firehouse is complete with many of the things you would find in an active fire station and is set up for learning and fun.  Visitors can slide down a fire pole, sit in the fire engine cab, listen to 9-1-1 calls, see firefighters tools of the trade, and embrace the history of Portland Fire & Rescue that belongs to all Portlanders.  Firefighters are available during open house to answer any questions you may have. Also keep watching the Fire Blog for information coming up on Belmont's 100th Anniversary Celebration in September.  We look forward to seeing you this summer!