March 16, 2021 18:30
Just after 2 am residents of the Shalamar Apartments reported a rapidly growing fire in a van style RV parked behind the apartment building. Truck and Engine 7 arrived to find the RV fully engulfed in flames. One adult occupant had made it out of the RV with minor smoke inhalation injuries. The other adult occupant and a 100lb Mastiff breed dog were discovered inside the van and declared deceased after the fire was extinguished. A PF&R investigator was called to the scene and determined the cause of the fire was an “improper use of a propane heater” used to keep the RV occupants warm.
Additionally, volunteers from the Trauma Intervention Program (TIPs) responded to assist the surviving occupant with arrangements for his friend and dog, and to provide emotional support through this difficult tragedy.
Fire Chief Sara Boone had the following to say: “Some of our most vulnerable populations – our unhoused neighbors, those struggling with mental health issues, and people simply trying to stay warm and survive – are dying in fires. Portland Fire & Rescue will be enhancing our efforts with community-based advocacy groups, city partners, city leadership and our business community to find holistic solutions. This is a community health crisis and the only way we are going to see change happen is if everyone is involved.”
From Portland City Commissioner-In-Charge of PF&R, Jo Ann Hardesty: “I am devastated to be speaking again to another tragedy. This morning, Portland lost another member of our community who was simply trying to keep themselves warm. These repeated incidents point to the systemic failure to adequately care for our most vulnerable neighbors. That failure continues to lead to tragic outcomes. We do not have enough housing people can afford to live in, we do not have enough housing and shelter options for those experiencing houselessness, we do not have enough support for people experiencing mental or behavior health issues, and we don’t have safe designated areas where those living in cars and RVs can rest.
There is hope on the horizon. Throughout this month the City of Portland will be discussing and voting on zoning changes that will give us more flexibility for managed housing options, safe parking, and more. We also have Metro’s recently passed Here Together ballot measure that will dramatically increase our investment in alleviating houselessness. I’m committed to working with Portland Fire & Rescue, the City of Portland, and community organizations throughout the city to develop creative solutions to mitigating fires while we work urgently to provide more housing, support, and dignity to those in need.”
PF&R would like to remind residents about the dangers of using propane heaters indoors.