February 09, 2021 17:20
Just after 7am Portland Fire & Rescue Truck 8 and Engine 17 responded to a fire beneath an overpass at N Vancouver and N Columbia. Crews discovered a shelter structure built underneath the overpass was on fire. One 27-year-old adult managed to exit the structure prior to PF&R’s arrival on scene but had suffered severe burns (3rd degree) over their entire body. Firefighter paramedics carried the individual to an ambulance gurney from American Medical Response and together they performed advanced life support measures on the badly injured patient. That patient was transported to Emanuel Hospital Burn Center and later died from the burn injuries just after 11am.
Investigators believe the fire may have started by an improvised, propane fed heating device that ignited materials used to insulate the space from the cold temperatures.
After hearing of the news, Commissioner-in-charge of PF&R Jo Ann Hardesty had the following to say “I am heartbroken to learn that a community member experiencing houselessness has died while trying to tend to their most basic needs of shelter and warmth. This is precisely why we need to urgently move forward with sanctioned camping, tiny home villages, safe RV parking, and other forms of low barrier, transitional housing that provides a higher degree of safety and stability for those currently sleeping on our streets. Moving these projects forward will make Portland safer for everyone. We can and must do better.”