Taxi driver spots Sunday morning blaze
by: Jaime Valdez, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighter Terry Taylor sprays foam on the Homestreet-Banyan Tree building on Southwest 185th Avenue in Aloha Sunday morning to prevent the blaze from starting again.

A 96-year-old Aloha building housing a medical clinic was destroyed by a blaze early Sunday morning.

Offices of the Homestreet-Banyan Tree Inc., 4565 S.W. 185th Ave., in a two-story, wood frame building were burned in the fire that was reported about 4 a.m. The loss was estimated at more than $250,000.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue firefighters were called to the building at 4:09 a.m. by a passing taxi driver who stopped to make certain the building was empty.

An engine company from the fire district's Aloha station 62 were the first to arrive at 4:15 a.m. They fought the fire from the outside because the building was engulfed. No one was injured.

Four engine companies, one ladder company, one volunteer engine company and two chief officers fought the fire for 30 minutes before bringing it under control. About two dozen firefighters had to contend with live, downed power lines and intense heat that threatened to ignite a nearby residence. Firefighters were able to protect the exposed structure from the fire.

Fire district investigators are examining the scene and interviewing witnesses. The cause remains under investigation.

The building, constructed in 1910, is a total loss. A car parked nearby was also destroyed.

The facility housed a clinic and offices of Homestreet-Banyan Tree, a tax-exempt charitable organization that offers case management, counseling, psychiatric services, peer support and affordable housing to hundreds of adults experiencing debilitating mental illness.

It has offices in Beaverton, Aloha and Hillsboro.

Representatives of the company said its staff, clients or patients who would normally work or be served at the destroyed building should report to a facility next door.

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