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The City of Portland, Oregon

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Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Chemical Reaction at NE Portland House Fire Surprises Firefighters

Posted: February 24th, 2011 8:52 PM

Tonight, facing freezing temperatures, Portland Firefighters responded to a house fire located at 1712 N.E. Sumner Street at 7:15 pm.  Upon arrival, firefighters reported heavy fire coming from the front half of the house - something they encounter day in and day out in their line of work.  What was unusual about this fire for NE Portland Station 24's Captain Jamie Klum and crew was the chemical reaction that occurred just inside the house as they began to knock down this fire.  
"As we sprayed water on the fire, a chemical reaction occurred and produced what looked like electrical arcing," said Klum.  "Firefighters had to think on their feet to move past this reaction and stop the fire before it spread to the attic."
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in 20 minutes.  Fire commanders on scene quickly called for additional resources to rotate crews in the cold weather and ensure that firefighters were able to stay warm and safe.  The fire was brought under control at 7:35 pm.  No injuries were reported and the occupant will be staying with family members tonight.  Damage from this fire is estimated at $20,000.  A fire investigator is on scene to help determine the cause of this fire and the origin of the chemical reaction that occurred.  
"Most house fires are like a big chemistry experiment," said Portland Fire Public Information Officer Paul Corah.  "There are chemicals in the average household that would surprise people and can impact how a fire behaves."