May 22, 2011
At around 7:00 pm, John Filipowicz was driving west on Portland Highway going underneath the 42nd Street overpass when he noticed something unusual in his rear view mirror. Upon closer inspection, he realized that what he saw on fire was moving. He stopped his truck and discovered that a man in a sleeping bag was fully engulfed in flames.
Filipowicz immediately rolled the man over and tried to put the fire out. After his attempts were unsuccessful using his hands, he ran back to his truck, got a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. After the fire was out, he pulled the sleeping bag off the man and called 9-1-1.
According to Battalion Chief Merrill Gontermann, "The man was burned over a significant portion of his body and taken to Emanuel Hospital with life-threatening injuries."
The man, in his 50's and a transient, was sleeping next to a makeshift campfire to keep warm when his sleeping bag caught on fire. Filipowicz, a pilot for Alaska Airlines, was on his way from Medford to Portland where he was scheduled to fly out in the morning. Prior to working for Alaska Airlines, Filipowicz was a helicopter rescue pilot for the Coast Guard. He reported that the man who he helped had the most significant injuries he had ever seen.
Portland Fire's Engine 14 and Truck 8 arrived on scene and extinguished the fire in the campfire area. Crews from Truck 8 arrived, rendered first aid, and transported the patient to a waiting ambulance.
There are approximately 1,200 homeless people sleeping on the streets of Portland each night. Portland Fire & Rescue urges the public in light of this incident to help end homelessness by volunteering their time or donating financially to a local homeless shelter to help those in need and prevent tragedies like this.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
May 22, 2011