Portland, Oregon – A fire that burned the roof of a Southeast Portland home actually started in a nearby homeless camp. Firefighters say several items were burning in the camp on 96th Avenue near I-205 Monday, such as tarps and tents. The flames spread to a tree, and then embers floated across the road to the roof of a house. Portland Fire and Rescue says no one was hurt at the house or the camp. It’s still not clear what sparked the fire at the camp. A similar case happened in December 2016, at the homeless camp on North Kerby avenue near the hospital there. A fire at that camp burned the home next door. It was a Portland lawyer who lived and practiced there. They ended up suing over the fire.
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On July 29, 2019 at 4:05 pm, a Portland Fire & Rescue fire engine responded to a reported homeless camp fire in the 5300 block of SE 96th Ave. Various items such as tarps, shopping carts, miscellanous items, and possibly tents were found to be burning. The camp was under a tree and also caught the tree on fire and the area burned was approximately 20′ by 50′.
After extinguishing this fire, the fire crew on scene noticed that the roof of a house across the street from this camp was on fire. Embers from the initial fire that had drifted across the street landed on the roof of this house and ignited it. At 4:30 pm, the fire crew on scene called for a full residential fire response which sent additional crews to the scene.
PF&R crews extinguished the roof fire and then used chainsaws to cut off the roofing material to ensure it was fully extinguished. Upon further investigation, fire crews found that the roof fire had not extended into the house and was limited to the roof.
There are no known injuries associated with either the homeless camp fire or the residential fire and the residents of the house were not displaced. It is unknown how many individuals were residing at this homeless camp. The Incident Commander has recalled the fire and begun to send crews back to their stations.
As the weather gets hotter and drier, PF&R reminds Portlanders to be aware of embers from BBQs and backyard fire pits. Keep all backyard fires in fire pits at least 15 feet from a structure, have a hose available, make sure all fire are fully extinguished, and never burn garbage or anything other than firewood–no construction debris, brush, or hedge clippings.
Cause of homeless camp fire is undetermined at this time.