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A house fire - with all floors ablaze - piques investigators' curiosity

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Residents (foreground) look, with dismay, at their now-charred home.Several things about a mid-afternoon house fire – in the 4500 block of S.E. Woodward Street, in the Richmond Neighborhood on August 15 – caught the attention of both fire and police investigators.

Neighbor Joan Day told reporters she heard a “loud sound” near the house at about the time the fire started, around 2:15 pm, that “sounded like a truck door slamming”.

Once inside the burning home, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews realized they’d be put to the test in searching for victims; they encountered roaring flames not only in the home’s basement, but also on the first and second floors.

“Of concern for firefighters’ safety was the fact that the staircase from the basement to the first floor had burned through while firefighters were attacking the blaze in the basement,” said PF&R spokesman Lt. Joe Troncoso.

The combined efforts of several firefighting crews quickly knocked down the fires on the first and second floors, Troncoso added.

The American Red Cross came to the scene and provided the two adults and two children who lived in the burned home with temporary shelter.

Later that evening, the Portland Police Bureau released information that a potential arson suspect was seen “fleeing the house into the neighborhood”.

The person seen running from the residence was described as a white male in his 20s, wearing a black shirt, black jean shorts, and black baseball cap, riding a black bike with “ram style” handlebars.

At deadline, PF&R Lt. Michael Silva relayed from Arson Investigators that “This fire remains under active investigation.”

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Arson Investigators at 503/ 823-3408.