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Officials tried to avoid fatal fire

Numerous violations were issued at industrial park

Fairview city and Gresham fire officials issued numerous code violations to the owner of an industrial park where a homeless man died in an RV fire Tuesday, March 4.

Gary McBrayer, 64, died of smoke inhalation in the Tuesday night fire that consumed a travel trailer stored at Eastwinds Industrial Park, at 21414 N.E. Sandy Blvd., in Fairview. 21414 N.E. Sandy Blvd.. He was found lying on a couch, where the fire started.

Gresham Fire Marshal Gus Lian said the fire was accidental and caused by either smoking material or candles.

'The probable scenario was that he fell asleep smoking, but we can't say that with certainty,' Lian said.

The trailer was owned by McBrayer's niece, Lian said. McBrayer also lived by the Sandy River, Lian said.

'He had family in the area, but he did not have a permanent residence,' Lian said.

The fire death comes after Gresham fire and Fairview city officials have unsuccessfully dealt with the problem of people illegally living in the trailers at Eastwinds, which is zoned for storage only.

'There have been numerous violations on that property that go way back,' said Joe Gall, Fairview city administrator. 'The whole situation is tragic. A gentleman was killed in a fire and no one wants to see that happen.'

Gresham fire records indicate there have been at least two arson fire investigations there since 1999, one of which involved a motor home fire.

Gary Troutner, the owner of Eastwinds Industrial Park, said people who store RVs there sign a waiver.

Officials have in the past evicted people from living at the storage facility, which is not locked and accessible 24-hours a day by RV owners. Gall said there is a fine line as to what the city can do in the face of property rights laws.

'There is only so much a municipal jurisdiction can do to prevent someone doing something that's illegal or not smart,' Gall said. 'But the bottom line is people are not supposed to be living there.

Gall continued: 'I really don't know if there was anything more the city could've done to prevent this. It's a sad story that this had to happen, but it's not a simple thing in terms of just saying the city should have shut (the facility) down. The city doesn't have authority to just go in and do whatever it wants.'

The city is working on solutions to avoid this happening again at this property.

'We've already taken steps to get that under way,' said John Gessner, Fairview community development director. 'Just yesterday (Thursday) we conducted a full site investigation identifying all vehicles on the property and to look for signs of occupancy in some of those trailers, which we believe we did find.'

The city found up to 40 vehicles and is now going to send notices to the owners informing them that they are not to occupy the vehicles.

'Additionally, if there are instances where we have vehicles that are either wrecked or disabled in some way, we will take enforcement action to have those vehicles removed,' Gessner said.