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55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204
March 7, 2011
Portland Fire & Rescue responded to a reported fire in a single-family residence early this morning in North Portland. Upon arrival, the officer of Engine Company 8 reported a 1.5 story residence with heavy smoke issuing from the first floor. Fire attack crews made entry into the structure and had some difficulty in locating the seat of the fire. It was determined after a few minutes that fire was originating from the basement of the house, but crews had difficulty gaining access into the basement.
"Basement fires are one of the most dangerous and difficult fire conditions that we can experience in a structure fire. Especially the kind that our firefighters experienced this morning. This basement had no windows leading to the outside of the house, just a stairwell leading into it from the center of the first floor. Since this was the only vertical opening from the basement, the attack crew's only access into it essentially became a chimney of superheated smoke and gasses. This problem can be confounded by the fact that given enough time, basement fires will burn out the structural stability of the floor above them, attributing to many firefighters being injured or killed each year after falling through the weakened floors."
While crews were advancing to and attacking the seat of the fire, other crews were assigned to do a primary search of the structure to ensure that all occupants were accounted for. It was later learned that one of the occupants, a young adult male, had to jump from an elevated window to escape from the home. It was also discovered that although the home had smoke detectors, there were no batteries found in any of them.
The American Red Cross was called to assist the five occupants of the home, three adult males and two adult females, with some alternative housing as the home is currently inhabitable. No injuries to the occupants or firefighters were reported. The fire was determined to be accidental, caused by an unattended candle. Damage estimates are approximately $75,000.
Portland Fire & Rescue would like to remind folks to ensure that their home has working smoke detectors that are tested monthly. It is also wise to have a fire escape plan and designated meeting point outside of the structure. Fires will inevitably happen, but being prepared can make the difference between life and death.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
March 7, 2011