A Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue investigator has determined that the most likely cause of last week’s duplex fire at 7795 SW Hillcrest Court in Beaverton was embers from charcoal briquettes. Hot embers spread to and ignited lightweight combustible material in the nearby garage. The fire quickly grew and spread to the attic. The fire has been ruled accidental. No damage estimate is available at this time.
TVF&R reminds citizens to take the following precautions when barbecuing to ensure that summer memories from your outdoor barbecues are happy ones:
• Don’t leave your barbecue unattended or too close to structures or other combustible surfaces.
• Dispose of used briquettes and ashes in a metal container and store away from combustibles such as decks, furniture, or structures -used briquettes/ashes can stay hot for several days.
• Use charcoal lighter fluid sparingly and with extreme caution; never squirt lighter fluid once the fire is lit.
On the afternoon of August 6, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters were dispatched to a reported fire in a two-story duplex located 7795 SW Hillcrest Court in Beaverton. A dark plume of smoke could be seen for several miles as Engine 53 from the Progress fire station and other TVF&R units responded. Engine 53 arrived within five minutes to find a fully-involved garage, with fire spreading up the exterior wall of the duplex and racing through the attic space above the two units.
First-arriving crews conducted a search for occupants, battled the exterior fire, and opened up ceilings on the second floor of both units to access and extinguish the fire in the attic space. Crews had the fire under control in approximately 30 minutes, but battled small pockets of active fire on the exterior and in the attic for over an hour.
Occupants of the unit attached to the garage told fire investigators they heard a noise in the garage. When they opened the door, they found contents in the garage ablaze. They exited their home and quickly warned the next door unit’s occupant. Both units in the duplex sustained heavy heat, smoke, and water damage. Firefighters took precautions during the incident to protect the occupant’s furniture and other belongings with tarps.
According to duplex’s owner, one unit was rented by an adult male and female with one child. The neighboring unit is rented by an adult male and female with two children. All residents were displaced from their homes and are staying with friends and family.
Outside temperatures during the fire were nearly 90 degrees, which put firefighters at risk of heat exhaustion. Public Information Officer Karen Eubanks, states, “Firefighters wear heavy, fire-resistant, protective turnouts and equipment weighing in excess of 50 lbs. when battling a structure fire. This, combined with interior fire temperatures averaging near 1,000 degrees, can result in firefighters becoming dehydrated more quickly.” Eubanks added, “It is not uncommon during times of hot temperatures, to bring in more resources on a structure fire in an effort to provide firefighters with a break to re-hydrate and cool down.”