July 15, 2022 17:20
Shortly after 10:00 am this morning, PF&R crews responded to a reported house fire in the 1100 block of NW Eloise Lane. Upon their arrival, crews reported heavy smoke coming from this house and began fire attack and search and rescue operations. Shortly after the first battalion chief arrived on scene and assumed incident command, he upgraded the fire response to a second alarm. This was done both to ensure there were adequate resources on scene in case the fire had extended significantly throughout this 4000 square foot home and because of access issues due to the steep hills and winding, narrow streets in this area of the city.
Upon entering the house, fire attack crews were confronted with heavy smoke and zero visibility conditions. While searching for the main body of the fire, a firefighter on the first-in fire attack crew partially fell through a hole that had burned through the floor on the first floor of the house. This firefighter was assisted out of the hole by one of his crew members and he sustained minor injuries. It was determined that the main body of the fire was located in a large crawl space below the first floor of the house and the fire was extinguished.
Another firefighter who was engaged in firefighting operations outside the house also sustained minor injuries. Both firefighters were evaluated at an area hospital, however neither required ambulance transport. There were no civilian injuries at this fire.
Crews received reports that there were multiple animals inside the house and they were able to safely remove one turtle. Unfortunately, two guinea pigs and a rabbit were found deceased.
A fire investigator from PF&R’s Fire Investigations Unit responded to the scene and determined that the fire was caused by a pet cage heat lamp that ignited a fire on the floor of the first floor. This fire burned a hole through the floor and the fire extended into the large crawl space below. The fire traveled approximately 15 feet through the crawl space, burning a second hole through the floor of an adjacent room.
This house was equipped with a residential sprinkler system which did activate and extinguish a portion of the fire on the floor; however, the sprinkler system could not reach the fire that had extended into the crawl space below and it continued to burn until firefighters could extinguish it using their hose lines.
PF&R would like to encourage Portlanders to install residential sprinkler systems in their homes whenever possible, as they save lives and also—as was the case in this fire—can markedly decrease fire spread and severity. PF&R also reminds Portlanders to exercise extreme caution when using heat-producing devices or appliances—whether they be portable heaters or pet cage heat lamps--inside your home; make sure to use these devices in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and keep them at least three feet away from any flammable materials. Also ensure that these devices are properly secured so they cannot tip over or make contact with flammable materials. And finally, please ensure that your home is equipped with working smoke alarms, on every floor and in every sleeping area. Smoke alarms save lives and should be tested monthly to ensure that they are functioning properly.
**Note on photos: The hole that the firefighter fell through is the photo of the hole with the ladder in it. The other hole is the second hole that burned through the floor after the fire had extended through the crawl space.