At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, a fire broke out in the May Apartments at the intersection of SW Taylor and SW 14th.
Ladders were thrown to the fire escapes with residents and pets assisted to safety by some of the first arriving crews.
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.
Extremely aggressive fire spread led to command calling for all crews to withdraw for their safety, reassess, and change tactical plans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Source: Portland Fire & Rescue