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.
At 1:17 pm today, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters were dispatched to a reported fire in a two-story duplex located 7795 SW Hillcrest Court in Beaverton. Engine 53 from the Progress fire station arrived within five minutes to find a fully involved attached garage, fire up the exterior wall of the duplex, and fire racing throughout the attic space above the two units.
Station 53 and subsequent arriving crews conducted a search for occupants, battled the exterior fire, and opened up ceilings on the second floor of both units so as 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.
According to duplex’s owner, the occupants included an adult male and female, and child in one unit; and an adult male and female, and two children in the other unit. According to the occupants in the unit attached to the garage, they heard a noise in the garage and upon opening the door saw fire in the garage. They exited their home and quickly warned the next door unit’s occupant. The occupants have been displaced from their homes and are staying with friends and family.
With temperatures nearing 90 degrees today, firefighters can be 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.”
The fire is under investigation at this hour. Both units in the duplex sustained heavy heat, smoke, and water damage to their entire second story, and water damage to their first story. Firefighters took precautions during the incident to protect the occupant’s furniture and other belongings with tarps.
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