Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood

At 10:30 AM in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, a fire broke out in the May Apartments a..."> Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood

At 10:30 AM in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, a fire broke out in the May Apartments a..." /> Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood

At 10:30 AM in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, a fire broke out in the May Apartments a... "> Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood (Photo)

Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood (Photo)

May 16, 2023 23:00


Portland Fire Responds to 4-Alarm Apartment Fire in Goose Hollow Neighborhood

At 10:30 AM in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, a fire broke out in the May Apartments at the intersection of SW Taylor and SW 14th. The location of this fire is at the confluence of 3 different stations with many rigs arriving at the same time. Upon arrival, the radio report indicated heavy fire pushing out of windows on the Taylor side of the building with people trapped on multiple fire escapes. The tone used in the radio transmission indicated that this was a pressurized situation and crews immediately went to work.

Ladders were thrown to the fire escapes with residents and pets assisted to safety by some of the first arriving crews. The others on scene entered the front door and began to clear the building floor by floor. The fire detection system was in full alarm, but the residents had grown weary of frequent false alarms with many not taking any action at leaving. Crews went floor by floor alerting the residents that this was not a false alarm and encouraged them to exit the building immediately. A second alarm response was quickly called for by the command chief upon arrival which adds 4 engines and 2 trucks to the response.

The main body of fire was initially on the 3rd floor and had begun to extend upward into the 4th level of the 60-apartment residential complex. Crews searched and aided in rescue of those still inside the structure. An offensive fire attack was enacted by crews connecting hose to the external standpipes and entering the structure from the fire escape platforms. Crews pushed into the structure cooling the flames as they progressed.

Extremely aggressive fire spread led to command calling for all crews to withdraw for their safety, reassess, and change tactical plans. An interior crew indicated that a search of the entire building was nearly complete and requested the opportunity to finish the task at hand prior to exiting the structure. Shortly, this crew exited and reported that the primary search of the fire floor and the floor above was completed. This was the first of multiple Personnel Accountability Reports (PAR) requested by command to ensure that all on the fireground were accounted for. A third and fourth alarm were added which brings a total of 86 firefighters to the fireground. Add on all the responding chiefs, administrative officers, and support staff from our logistics section, there were nearly 125 Portland Fire & Rescue members on scene working.

Fire had spread to the lofted area of the building and was rapidly growing. The decision was made to remain on the exterior of the structure and focus the suppression efforts of using large diameter hose streams into windows and from above to work on controlling any fire spread with divisions put in place on each side of the building. Fire activity continued to grow with explosive flashover conditions blowing windows out of the 4th story windows with shards of glass landing on the other side of the 4-lane street and cut the forehead of a firefighter. This member placed his helmet back on his head and went right back to work which was a characteristic shown by all on scene. Regardless of what challenge was in front of them, the firefighters continued to rise to, meet, and exceed each challenge.

The unreinforced masonry building, constructed in 1910, was showing signs of potential collapse with the structural damages of the fire along with heavy water flow. All emergency apparatus and personnel were moved out of the collapse zone to ensure that if the building walls fell because of fire suppression actions, an emergency response vehicle and the operating personnel were not in any danger.

With the smoke production banking downward and onto the 405 freeway, traffic was stopped all together for nearly 2 hours because of the limited visibility. Traffic flow resumed but the exits close to the fire incident remained closed into the late afternoon to prevent any traffic from rolling into the emergency scene.

The crews on the back side of the fire building were focused on using many hose lines, ground turrets, and deck guns to act as exposure lines to protect the adjacent structures located mere feet from the fire building. Truly impressive efforts under the direction of a call back chief saved these two structures with minimal damage.

With six aerial master streams in place and many other ground level fire hoses projecting water into the building, the basement eventually filled up with water. The oil and diesel fuel tanks used by the furnace began to leak and the combined water and petroleum fluids were flushed out of the building with the large amount of water being used to keep the flames in check. Crews diverted the runoff water away from the storm drains and Bureau of Environmental Services was contacted to alert them of the possible runoff into the stormwater system.

Four hours after the fire was received by our partners at the Bureau of Emergency Services, command staff began to pare down the response and were sending crews back to their fire stations. It should be noted that our dispatch center was undergoing repairs and modification to our Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system so all the management of this fire was done with pen and paper. No computer program to provide any direction. Our Fire Liaison Officers and BOEC Dispatch Supervisors worked diligently moving fire companies around the city and requesting mutual aid assistance from neighboring fire jurisdictions to provide fire coverage to the residents and members throughout our response area. Along with maintaining appropriate fire coverage for the city, members of BOEC were actively involved in helping us in clarifying broken transmissions and requesting assistance of outside agencies needed in this fire. All of this “old school” without any assistance from well designed computer programs that are regularly depended upon for the overall opereation.

Six hours into the fire, with the two structures to the south intact, Portland Fire & Rescue transitioned into a fire watch situation, bringing in reserve fire apparatus to remain on scene for the duration with crews alternating shifts around the clock with a few aerial master streams in operation continuing the fire suppression efforts through the night.

In this emergency, Portland Fire & Rescue performed many rescues. Some upon arrival of individuals trapped on fire escapes with fire impinging upon them. Others by alerting them to a true emergency and not just another false alarm. And lastly out of windows when the egress from the structure was prevented by active fire or smoke. The regular training put in place by our training division and company officers all came into play today as, to our knowledge, all residents made it out of the building safely.

Traffic will be affected if hose lines are attached to area fire hydrants and the aerial master streams are needed to eliminate any fire hazard. The initial footprint of surface street closures was a 3-block radius which will be continually reduced as fewer fire hydrants are requird to provide the amount of water needed for suppression efforts. PF&R would like to direct you to the PBOT social media feeds (Twitter-PBOTinfo) for up to the moment information.

Chief Sara Boone said “I want to recognize and acknowledge the efforts and heroism displayed by the men and women of Portland Fire under the most hazardous of conditions today. Because of their training, decision making, and actions on the fireground, lives were saved. I am profoundly grateful for their continuous efforts and sacrifices. I also want to extend my deep appreciation for our mutual aid partners who provided resources to cover the city while we were on this emergency scene. I would also like to thank the public safety system, our city bureau partners, and all others who contributed to the collective efforts in mitigating this incident and caring for those who were displaced.”

Public Safety Commissioner Rene Gonzalez added “Today the City of Portland expresses deep gratitude for the selfless efforts of our brave firefighters and other first responders who answered the call for a devastating 4th alarm fire in the heart of Goose Hollow. The collaborate efforts from all public safety bureaus and mutual aid partners highlights the common values that we as Portlanders share. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who experienced loss and hardship on this day.”

The Red Cross organized a shelter located at the University of Portland for the displaced residents as plans are put in place to find new housing for these displaced Portlanders. An organization called Team Farmer arrived on scene and provided 45 pizzas for the displaced residents who were seeking shelter in an air-conditioned bus provided by TriMet.

There were two noted injuries sustained on the scene. The above cut on the head and a firefighter was sent to the hospital with an elevated blood pressure and will remain under medical supervision until stable enough to be released.

Portland Fire & Rescue would like to acknowledge our mutual aid partners who provided essential assistance in providing fire coverage to the city with over 80 firefighters on the emergency incident. Gresham Fire & Emergency Services, Lake Oswego Fire, Clackamas County Fire, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Vancouver Fire all provided support on scene or in our fire stations during the event. Additionally, many city bureaus provided their assistance as we addressed this fire including Portland Police, Bureau of Development Services, PBOT, ODOT, the Portland Water Bureau and PBEM. We also must acknowledge the help of American Medical Response and their help on scene. Lastly, we want to thank PGE for their quick response and providing a safe working environment around the elevated power lines coursing through the location.

PF&R needs to also acknowledge the efforts of our Emergency Vehicle Technicians who responded to the incident and provided the necessary guidance, knowledge, and equipment for all apparatus to operate for the duration of the event. Providing fuel and other essential fluids along with the ability to identify a deficiency in capability on site are incredibly helpful and the success of this and other similar events depends upon their assistance.

This fire is currently under investigation from the Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigations Unit. Investigation efforts are underway and will continue in the morning following the evaluation of the stability of the building by the City Engineer.