Shortly after 9 p.m. Friday, Engine 19 out of the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood was dispatched on a transformer problem near the intersection of NE 60th Avenue and Stark Street. While in route additional reports of fire and explosions in the substation located at this intersection came into our emergency dispatch center so the responding officer upgraded this to a complete box assignment. This upgrade adds 3 more fire engines, 2 trucks, and 2 chief officers.
Engine 19 arrived to find heavy fire in and around the substation. Due to the dangerous nature of fighting an electrical based fire a deliberate and methodical approach was taken. The first arriving crews were directed to park their rigs strategically to prevent traffic flow to protect members of the public. After parking the rigs, a complete search of the area to assess if there were any fire exposure issues in neighboring structures. The reports back to command indicated the fire was inside the fenced area of the substation enclosure and all risks to surrounding homes and business was small.
A PGE representative was on scene who lived in the neighborhood, and he advised the commanding officer to let the fire burn until they had more resources on scene. With a good control on any exposure issues, PF&R was able to reduce our resources to 2 engines, a 2-person rescue and a chief officer to command the incident. Fire had burned itself down and on call PGE line operators moved into the substation with two members of E19 to assess the scene. It was determined to have one protection line flowing water reduce the bulk of the remaining fire and to extinguish the rest with chemical extinguishers as this posed the least risk to crews operating at the incident.
This incident was complicated due in part that the substation was still energized along with all the oil from the transformer burning along the ground. Throughout the incident all fire remained inside the substation enclosure and no surrounding structures were affected by the blaze. There were no reported injuries.
PF&R would like to thank our partners at BOEC and the representatives from PGE (both off duty and on call) in helping us create a safe solution for all involved.
Source: Portland Fire & Rescue