August 19, 2020 14:55
At 2:44 am on August 19th, SW fire crews were dispatched to a house fire at the 2300 block of SW Vermont St. PF&R Engine 5 was the first to arrive on scene. Engine 5’s Lt. Carson Linker reported that there was “heavy fire and smoke showing from the front and rear of the 1.5 story home.”
Battalion Chief Jerry Bartalome arrived shortly after and recognized the building to actually be Chabad of SW Portland, a commercial space, and called for a 2nd alarm response to provide more fire engines and trucks at the scene.
Fire crews worked hard and fast to chase the fire up into difficult to reach attic spaces for well over an hour before declaring the fire under control. Battalion Chief Bartalome remarked about the situation on scene with the property built in 1929: “I saw firefighters working very hard to limit the amount of damage here. They are familiar with the difficulties that older buildings like this present, but the fire was far advanced by the time we arrived.”
Fire Investigators have not yet determined a cause, but they are very interested in finding more information that may help them. They have asked that if anyone in the community has information, pictures, or video that may be helpful, please call them at 503-823-INFO (4636).
Investigators did mention that they had an earlier fire at this same location on August 14th; that fire was determined to be due to an electrical malfunction in an upstairs office area. While they do not believe that fire was intentionally set, they have not come to that same conclusion today. They did comment on the fact that the building was boarded up and clearly vacant thus, susceptible to criminal activity.