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Fireworks suspected in three overnight fires in Lake Oswego

Flames displace one family, cause more than $185,000 in damage


SUBMITTED PHOTO - Smoke billows from the garage of a home on Cherry Crest Drive in Lake Oswego, where spent fireworks left in a plastic bucket are the suspected cause of $175,000 in damage.Fireworks are the suspected cause of three fires within about two hours that struck homes in Lake Oswego overnight, displacing one family and causing more than $185,000 in damage.

Lake Oswego Fire Marshall Gert Zoutendijk said firefighters were first called to a house in the 17000 block of Lowenberg Terrace just after 10:30 p.m. Monday by the home’s owner, who told officials he heard fireworks being set off behind his house in the field at Palisades. When the homeowner walked toward the back of the house, he found about 100 feet of arborvitae engulfed in flames, Zoutendijk said.

Firefighters — with the help of a neighbor who used a garden hose — were able to keep the fire from spreading from the hedge to any buildings or homes, Zoutendijk said. Investigators found evidence of illegal fireworks in the field, he added, and remnants of fireworks in the hedge.

About an hour later, residents of a home in the 1400 block of Cherry Crest Drive were awakened by smoke alarms and discovered smoke coming their garage. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the back side of the garage, where the homeowner had placed spent fireworks in a plastic bucket.

Zoutendijk estimated damage to that house, its contents and a car in the garage at around $175,000. The family — two adults and a child — was not injured and spent the night in a local hotel.

The third fire was reported around 12:39 a.m. Tuesday while firefighters were still on the scene at Cherry Crest Drive. Zoutendijk said flames ignited along the side of a home in the 15000 block of Village Drive after fireworks landed in bark dust next to the house. Damage was estimated at about $10,000, Zoutendijk said, but it could have been much worse; a neighbor who had been trained in the LOFD’s Community Emergency Response Team program used an extinguisher to knock down the main part of the fire before first responders arrived, he said.

“Lake Oswego fire prevention personnel have been on patrol on the Fourth of July for many years and believe that they have seen a decrease in illegal fireworks,” Zoutendijk said Tuesday, “but these fires show us that fires still happen due to both legal and illegal fireworks.”