Monday's 5 Alarm Fire Requires Tremendous Effort to Bring Under Control

Portland Fire and Rescue
Portland Fire and Rescue

March 20, 2018 10:50


On Monday March 12th at 0905 am, Portland Fire and Rescue was dispatched to a report of a fire at a recycling business called NW Metals located near NE 75th and NE Killingsworth. The grounds of this business contained crushed cars and tires intended for recycling.

Within an hour, the incident commander had called for four additional alarms due to a steady east wind and a heavy fire load at the location. Gaining access and providing water supply to the fire scene was complicated by the fact that it was effectively on a "flag" lot with a long driveway and bordered by several large business complexes to the north and east, a residential street and a very steep 40-foot embankment to the west, and fields and park land to the south.

Fire crews had to lay hundreds of feet of hose through the industrial yards of adjacent businesses from the north and east, and sprayed water from ladder pipes over the top of the homes from the west. On the south side, two engines and a ladder truck got stuck in the mud in the park land after many hours of water flow and operating in one place; these apparatus had to be towed out.

A total of seven fire hydrants located on NE 75th and along NE Killingsworth supplied water for the firefighting efforts. Each ladder truck, paired with a supply engine, is capable of flowing 1,500 gallons of water per minute. At the peak of firefighting efforts, nearly half a million gallons an hour was flowing onto the fire (nearly 8,000 gallons a minute). Additional engines were parked at the fire hydrants to overcome lost pressure from the long hose lines providing the water supply.

The Portland Water Bureau was on scene throughout the incident, monitoring water system pressures and opening valves to accommodate the exceedingly high demand for water and pressure in the system. Everything worked as designed and no deficiencies were reported throughout the incident.

Early in the incident, a duplex and two detached homes in the path of the wind-driven flames were destroyed by the fire, displacing four families. 16 pets from the four different homes perished as well.

A total of 23 Engines, 7 Ladder Trucks, 1 Heavy Rescue, 2 Rehab/ Air Units, 9 Chiefs, the Mobile Command Unit, and a full fire investigation team were on scene at the height of operations.

At 11 am, the incident commander made the decision to evacuate the neighborhood to the west of the fire due to significant noxious smoke being pushed by the east winds and blanketing the area. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was monitoring the air conditions throughout the rest of the incident. The fire was knocked down by about 3 pm, but continued to smolder into the night and crews continued to flow water to prevent flare-ups.

Early Tuesday morning, a heavy equipment operator accessed the debris pile and moved cars so that firefighters could better advance on the hot-spots registering on their thermal imaging cameras. Fire investigators were also able to access the immediate fire scene and conduct their cause and origin investigation. The fire was finally extinguished at approximately 2:30 pm on Tuesday, March 13th. Fire crews remained on scene throughout Tuesday night to watch for any flare ups. The fire investigation is still on-going at this time, but an update regarding the fire cause will be provided when a final determination is made.

We would like to thank all area businesses who were impacted by this event and whose business was severely limited or stopped altogether because of the fire and firefighting efforts. Many of these locations offered support to fire crews on scene and opened access to their property for firefighting efforts. Many of these businesses assisted evacuees and fire victims as well, and their efforts were greatly appreciated.

Portland Fire and Rescue would also like to thank numerous partner agencies for their prompt support both at the fire scene and throughout the rest of the city. All neighboring fire jurisdictions that border the City of Portland "moved up" into Portland Fire Stations to cover the emergency calls that continued to come in throughout the city. Inter-agency training, cooperation with equipment design, and shared technology allow these agencies to almost seamlessly take over operations in the city and provide uninterrupted fire and medical service to Portland's citizens.

Partner agencies we would like to thank include:
Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications BOEC -- Dispatch Center coordinating all responses to fire scene, move-ups to cover city, continuation of emergency dispatch for entire city throughout event.
Portland Police Bureau -- Traffic control and evacuation assistance
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office -- Evacuation assistance
Portland Water Bureau -- Critical water supply management
Portland Bureau of Emergency Management -- Coordinated multi-agency response and evacuation notices via public alerts and the community emergency notification system (CENS)
Portland Bureau of Technology Services -- Assisted with GIS and Mapping of EPA testing
Portland Bureau of Transportation -- Traffic Management
Oregon Department of Transportation -- Traffic Management
Pacific Power and Light -- Cut power to affected area to protect firefighters from downed lines and access for ladder pipes (cannot spray water through energized lines)
NW Natural Gas -- Cut gas to affected areas where meters had been damaged/ threatened by fire
Tri-Met -- Provided transportation and shelter busses for evacuees
AMR Medical -- Provided medical evaluations of firefighters throughout incident
The Red Cross -- Provided shelter, food, and assistance to evacuees and pets
Trauma Intervention Program volunteers -- Provided comfort & support to numerous fire victims, evacuees & pets
Multnomah County Health Department -- Coordinated evaluation and recommendations for health concerns due to air quality
Environmental Protection Agency -- Monitored air quality throughout event
OR Department of Environmental Quality -- Monitored air quality throughout event
Portland Public Schools -- Close contact on evacuation status and air quality concerns

Assisting Fire Agencies (Responders and Mutual Aid Providers):
Gresham Fire Department -- Responded to the scene and C701 moved up to back fill coverage
Port of Portland Fire & Rescue (Airport Fire) -- Responded to the scene
Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue -- Back filled fire coverage for City of Portland
Clackamas County Fire District -- Back filled fire coverage for City of Portland
Lake Oswego Fire Department -- Back filled fire coverage for City of Portland
Vancouver Fire Department -- Back filled fire coverage for City of Portland

Resources dispatched to the fire scene over 5 Alarms:
E = Engine
T = Ladder Truck
S = Squad/ Heavy Rescue
C = Battalion/ Deputy/ Division Chief
I = Investigator
Rehab = Rehab/ Air Unit

1st Alarm @ 0905
E12 84th & Sandy Blvd.
E28 Rose City/ Hollywood
E2 Parkrose
E14 Alberta Park
T2 Parkrose
T8 Kenton
T7 Mill Park
C3 SE Battalion Chief
C4 Central Battalion Chief

2nd Alarm @ 0912
S1 Old Town (Special Resource assigned to all 2nd alarms)
E7 Mill Park
E9 Hawthorne District
E11 Lents
E17 Hayden Island
T7 Mill Park
C2 NE Battalion Chief
C103 Downtown Deputy Chief
C102 Downtown Division Chief of Operations
I374 Fire Investigator
PIO351 Public Information Officer

3rd Alarm @ 0927
E30 Gateway
E13 Lloyd District
E19 Mt. Tabor
T13 Lloyd District
E5/RH5 Hillsdale
C104 Special Operations Chief
C200 Training Center

4th Alarm @ 0940
E25 Woodstock
E74 Gresham
E26 Portsmouth
T71 Gresham
C7 Gresham Battalion Chief
C500 Logistics Deputy Chief
I373 Fire Investigator
I371 Fire Investigator

5th Alarm @ 1005
E1 Old Town
E31 Rockwood
E21 Eastbank
E71 Gresham
T10 Burlingame

Additional Units/ Resources Requested by Incident Command
E80/ Foam Truck 86 Req @ 10:12, responded at 10:15 (Port of Portland Fire at PDX)
E24/ Foam Unit 24 @ 11:21 (Overlook/ Swan Island)
Medic 345 & 304 (AMR)
Haz Mat Coordinator (PF&R) @10:44
Rehab 19 @ 11:11
Mobile Command 9 @ 11:39

A Public Information Officer will be available all day Friday for interviews and comments. Please contact for requests.