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Firefighters Respond to "Cold Fire," Operational Smoke Detectors Save the Day

1 Comment

Damage from fire to a kitchen appliance

At 10:15 am on Sunday, January 8, 2012, Portland firefighters from Portland Station 19 (Mt.Tabor) responded to a "cold fire" in SE Portland. Cold fires are fires that have been extinguished either on their own or by someone other than firefighters. Generally, cold fires are small in nature.

Upon their arrival, Engine 19’s crew found a two-story apartment that had severe smoke damage from a fire that originated somewhere in the kitchen. There was extensive fire and smoke damage to walls, appliances, and wood cabinetry. According to the tenant, her boyfriend had driven to work around 7:00 am and left their two daughters Hylah (11) and Sakirra (9) upstairs in their bedroom sleeping.

Firefighters use a Thermal Imaging Camera or TIC to help with surveying the area for any hidden smoldering material or undoused hot spots.

The fire did activate all the working smoke detectors in the apartment, waking the girls up. When they opened the doorway to the hallway they encountered thick, black smoke which had risen up the stairwell from the kitchen.  The girls were forced back into the bedroom where they immediately called their father who was already on his way back from dropping their mother off at work. He arrived back home a short time after, and extinguished the fire using a large dry-chem fire extinguisher.

Everyone is safe now, but this happy ending could certainly have ended in tragedy with even the slightest change in conditions. The fire in the kitchen could have easily erupted into something larger, but its growth was slowed by the lack of oxygen in the room.

"This 'cold fire' was larger than some smaller kitchen fires that get a full residential fire response," noted Station 19 Captain Joe Renhard.

Fully operational smoke detectors woke up the sleeping girls and alerted them to the problem. Portland Fire & Rescue does, however, recommend that 9-1-1 be called IMMEDIATELY in fire emergencies so that resources that may be needed won't be delayed.

Such as in this case, if you are an adult receiving the call for help from a child, hang up and call 9-1-1 immediately. Do NOT attempt to fight a fire by yourself. The smoke produced by today's fire did contain noxious chemicals that can quickly overcome a person not wearing proper equipment. 

The apartment is currently inhabitable due to smoke damage, and the family is being assisted by the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross.


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   January 10, 2012 


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1 Comment


Jeff Mac

May 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM

These smoke detectors were clutch, but do you think if they had a <a href="">smoke detector camera</a> like this it could have survived to be able to tell what started the fire?

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