Busy Afternoon at PF&R as Crews Respond to Three Fires and One Potential Jumper in Two Hours (Photo)

January 06, 2024 18:30


On January 6, 2024 Portland Fire & Rescue Crews responded to three fires--one was a working structure fire and the other were two less significant fires--in the space of two hours. Additionally, crews responded to a potential jumper on the Marquam Bridge during this timeframe.

The first fire was dispatched at 1:44 pm to the North Warehouse, located in the area of N. Interstate Avenue and N. Tillamook Street. Initial reports from the business owner indicated that an individual was burning a small campfire in a shed behind this location. Crews arriving on scene four minutes later found an individual burning wood in the aforementioned shed and crews indicated that they had been dispatched to an identical situation at this location yesterday. Crews quickly extinguished this fire and upon investigation noted that there was no fire extension into the structure. PPB was called to the scene to assist, and the incident was recalled at 1:53 pm.

The second fire was also dispatched at 1:44 pm to a residence in the area of N. Williams Ave. and N. Alberta Street. Initial reports to responding crews from dispatch were that there was grey smoke billowing from the back of the structure and that the occupants had all safety exited the structure. The first-due battalion chief noted a large smoke column visible from this location as he approached the scene. 

Upon his arrival at 1:48 pm, the battalion chief found a two-and-a-half story duplex with a basement with heavy smoke and fire coming from first-floor windows at the back and right side of the duplex. After assuming the incident command role at this fire, the chief directed one engine crew to secure a water supply from a hydrant, another engine crew to begin an interior attack on the fire, a ladder truck crew to perform search and rescue operations, and another ladder truck crew to go to the roof to assess the need for a ventilation hole.

As crews began working at this incident, the incident commander issued an emergency alert to all crews for a power line down across the driveway of this location. PPL was called to the scene to deenergize this power line.

Crews reported that the main body of the fire on the first floor was knocked down at 1:56 pm, however there remained some hidden fire in the walls between the first and second floors up to the roof. Interior crews then opened up the lathe and plaster walls and the truck crew on the roof cut a ventilation hole with a chain saw; these actions exposed the hidden fire that was running vertically from the first floor to the roof which crews were then able to fully extinguish. Crews found that only the north duplex unit was fire-involved, and the fire did not extend to the south unit. A Rehab unit was then called to the scene to assist in both rehabbing fire crews and also to replenish the numerous self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottles that firefighters used at this fire. This incident was recalled at 2:25 pm.

Two occupants of the duplex were assessed by a PF&R crew and an AMR ambulance crew for potential smoke inhalation, however neither individual required ambulance transport. There were no other injuries reported to occupants or firefighters.

Two dogs were found in the basement; one dog was uninjured and the other was displaying signs of smoke inhalation. The second dog was treated by firefighters using a specialized pet oxygen mask placed over its snout and appeared to make a full recovery after receiving this treatment.

The Red Cross was called to scene by incident command to assist with the needs of six displaced occupants and the cause of this fire remains under investigation.

This fire had a total of 5 engines, two ladder trucks, 2 battalion chiefs, one rehab unit, and one Fire Investigations Unit investigator, for a total of 31 PF&R members working at this incident. Photos of this incident are attached to this release.

The incident commander at this fire noted that there were no working smoke alarms at this duplex, the results of which could have been tragic had this fire occurred in the middle of the night. PF&R wants to remind Portlanders to be sure to have working smoke alarms on all floors and in all sleeping areas of their home and to test them no less than twice a year, preferably monthly. Smoke alarms truly save lives, especially considering the rapid fire spread and highly toxic products of combustion in modern furnishings and building materials.

At 2:15 pm, crews were dispatched to a potential jumper on the northbound Marquam bridge that was reported by multiple callers to BOEC dispatch. This individual remains on the bridge in danger of jumping and PPB CNT officers are in charge of this scene. This remains as active incident at this time, with four PF&R crews, one battalion chief, and one ambulance remaining on scene to assist PPB. I405, I5, and Harbor Drive traffic remains blocked at this time.

The third fire was dispatched at 3:48 pm in NW Portland, near NW Miller Rd. Initial reports by the occupant were that the house was filling with smoke. Upon their arrival 5 minutes later, crews found fire burning in the wall behind and above the flue area of a gas fireplace insert. Upon opening up the wall/flue area, crews found a two-foot radius of active fire, with heavy charring to 2x4 wood members. Once this area was exposed, crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire and then ventilate the smoke-filled house using high-volume fans. There were no injuries in this fire,  the cause is under investigation, and this incident was recalled at 4:05 pm.

Multiple, nearly simultaneous, multi-unit incidents can be a challenge to manage, especially when these incidents occur in the same quadrant of the city; however, utilizing our highly competent BOEC dispatchers--in coordination between them, PF&R’s BOEC fire liaison, and our command staff--Portland Fire & Rescue is able to successfully manage and coordinate our resources to get the job done even when things get a bit busy in the City of Portland.