Firefighters were called to the 2300 block of Fifth Avenue in West Linn shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday for reports of a fire at a large, multi-story home that had been converted into five individual apartments. Initial calls to 911 indicated there was a fire inside a bedroom of the structure. Upon arrival, fire crews saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure and quickly upgraded the fire to a second alarm to bring in additional engines, trucks, and incident support staff to support firefighting operations.
Crews started attacking the fire and searched floor-by-floor to locate anybody who may have been inside. Fire crews located and helped rescue two people from the home and checked them for injuries. Initially, the two patients declined to go the hospital, but later changed their minds and were taken by ground ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries. In total, nine residents live inside the home and have been displaced as a result of the fire. The Red Cross was activated and is working to find shelter for those affected. The home sustained extensive damage and is uninhabitable. A pet cat was also found deceased.
The home’s century-old construction style also contributed to rapid fire spread and made fire attack challenging. Firefighters worked diligently to track the fire as it progressed through the apartments, crawl spaces, attic, and other hard-to-reach areas. Crews used thermal imaging cameras to monitor hotspots and successfully got the fire under control in about an hour and half. They remained on scene in the evening hours for salvage and overhaul efforts.
Initial reports to the fire investigator suggested that an unattended, lit candle being used during a power outage caused the fire. Candles are a fire hazard, and TVF&R suggests using only flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and light sticks as emergency lighting in your home.
Thank you to Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency, Clackamas County Communications, Lake Oswego Fire, Clackamas Fire, West Linn Police, NW Natural Gas, Portland General Electric, American Medical Response, and the American Red Cross for their assistance on the fire.