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Dry conditions contribute to three fires in one hour

PORTLAND FIRE & RESCUE - An improperly discarded cigarette started a fire that damaged this deck and two house in North Portland.Improperly discarded cigarettes caused three fires in an hour Sunday in North Portland.

No one was injured in the fires, although four houses — including a floating home — were damaged.

Portland Fire & Rescue says the fires are a sign of the dangers caused by the hot and dry weather conditions.

According to PF&R, crews were dispatched to the first report of a fire 9134 N. Polk at 4:17 p.m. on July 18. The report said the fire was possibly extending to a neighboring house.

When the first crews arrived, they reported heavy fire from the back of a house that had spread into a neighbor's yard and shed, threatening a second home. Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire and searched the home for occupants.

Because multiple structure were involved, the response was upgrades to a 2nd Alarm at 4:22 p.m. With the additional crews, the fire was quickly brought under control. In all, approximately 50 fire personnel responded to the scene.

Fire Investigators determined that an improperly discarded cigarette ignited the deck, which quickly spread to the house, adjacent arborvitae and the neighbor's shed. The neighbor's yard also burned quickly due to the low humidity of the grass and ground cover. In addition, spot fires from flying embers were reported in several other yards and extinguished by firefighters.

While this fire was being fought, dispatchers shuffled unassigned firefighting resources around the city in a procedure called a "Move-up." to process ensure that response times are geographically balanced with available apparatus by filling in the blank spots on the map.

"Emergencies don't stop just because there's a house fire in the area," says Lt. Justin de Ruyter.

Shortly after the "Move-up," at 4:51 p.m., crews were dispatched to another fire at 2335 N. Marine Dr., just three miles from the first fire. The occupant was able to suppress the fire while crews were on the way. An investigation determined that a cigarette had been discarded, but fell through a crack in the wooden floats, igniting them.

Crews were dispatched to the third fire at 5:10 p.m. at 7606 N. Berkeley Ave. Occupants used four dry-chem extinguishers to extinguish the fire. Again, the cause was determined to be improperly discarded smoking materials.

PF&R urges citizens to practice extreme caution when handling or discarding any hot objects during this period of hot, dry climates.