A candle left burning on a mattress in a child's bedroom caused a one-alarm house fire Thursday morning in Aloha.
Although most of the damage was confined to the bedroom, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue firefighters were challenged by the task of searching the home for an occupant, who was reportedly trying to extinguish the fire with a garden hose.
A resident called 9-1-1 at 10:33 a.m., reporting a fire in an upstairs bedroom of the home in the 7000 block of Southwest 175th Avenue.
Firefighters from Stations 50, 66, 67 and 69 arrived within minutes and were advised that a male occupant of the home was inside trying to fight the fire. Firefighters asked the man to leave the home and then searched the house for other occupants as a team of firefighters pulled a hose line up the stairs to fight the fire.
Firefighters found a burning mattress in a second-floor bedroom and quickly extinguished it. The home was filled with smoke, and firefighters worked to clear the air.
After interviewing the occupants of the home, a TVF and R investigator determined the fire was caused by a candle that had been left burning on a mattress.
The occupants became aware of the fire after hearing a smoke alarm sounding in the hallway outside of the room, said Brian Barker, fire district spokesman. The smoke alarm in the bedroom where the fire started did not sound.
"Never leave a candle unattended, period," Barker said. "Candles were involved in two fatal fires in TVF and R's service area in the past two years. Combine the danger of an unattended candle and a smoke alarm that doesn't work, and you have a recipe for disaster. We're glad no one was hurt."
The story could have been very different, Barker said.
"While the occupant attempted to extinguish the fire with a garden hose, TVF and R advises that you never run back into a burning home," Barker added. "The occupant could have easily been overcome by the toxic smoke in the home and killed. Close the door to the burning room, leave the house and leave the firefighting to us."
The American Red Cross responded to the scene to offer aid to the two adults and four children who live in the home.