June 5, 2012
Firefighters from several downtown companies responded to the first fire at 8:42 pm. Several calls were received at Fire Alarm Dispatch reporting an apartment fire at the Lovejoy Station apartment complex. Lovejoy Station is located on 1040 NW 10th and is fully occupied with over 180 units. Firefighters would soon learn that several of the units were occupied by mobility impaired individuals. Truck 3 (Northwest/Pearl District) arrived first on-scene, confirmed a working fire in a third story apartment, and passed command so that they could commence rescue and fire. Deputy Chief John Harding, working his last night on the line before promoting to the position of Fire Marshal, assumed command of the growing incident.
Before firefighters could reach the apartment of origin, heat from the fire caused the windows to burst from the unit. A fire sprinkler activated and held the fire in check until interior crews could reach the fire moments later.
Firefighters working to reach the fire progressed to the third floor against a steady stream of evacuating residents. As firefighters from additional companies approached the building, they received reports that some occupants were still inside--in wheelchairs, and unable to evacuate. Firefighters encountered one such occupant on the third floor stairwell landing; understanding the immediacy of the situation, firefighters chose to carry the occupant, in her wheelchair, to the ground floor.
Most occupants on the floors above had evacuated; some chose not exit assuming the alarm was false--others, mobility impaired--could not. Occasional false alarms can be frustrating; however, it is crucial that all who are able to evacuate during an alarm do. When the alarms are not false, as was the case last evening, firefighters are forced to spend precious time informing able-bodied individuals to exit--this impedes the rescue of those in need.
Fire attack crews extinguished the fire in little time and went to work ventilating the structure with fresh air. Firefighters reached those who were unable to evacuate on the 2nd and 4th floors, deciding to shelter them in place. Sheltering-in-place is chosen when individuals cannot self-evacuate and are not in immediate danger. These residents, who called 9-1-1 to inform firefighters that they were trapped, acted wisely; information is vital during emergencies--by reporting their location the occupants were quickly reached, their situation assessed, and appropriate actions taken to ensure their safety.
Fire cause and damage estimates are currently pending; this information will be released upon completion of the fire investigation.
A second fire was called at 2:46 am and firefighters responded to the address at 8924 S.E. Claybourne. Firefighters from Engine 11 (Lents) arrived and discovered an abandoned home, secured from trespass with boards covering the doors and windows. Heavy smoke was issuing from the roof. Firefighters, using axes and chainsaws, gained access to the structure and extinguished the fire inside. This fire was recalled at 4:45 am.
Investigators estimate damage to the building at $40,000 and fire cause will be released upon completion of the fire investigation.
No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported as a result of either fire.