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31st Avenue apartment fire blamed on discarded cigarette

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Firefighters get ready to cut open the roof with a chainsaw, to fight the fire in the attic. A brisk breeze may have fanned the embers of a tossed-aside cigarette, on the deck of the Waverleigh Apartments, on the afternoon of November 25.

Those embers turned into a blaze at about 1 pm. Fire swept up the outside of the wooden patio of the apartment building, which facing S.E. 31st Avenue, a block north of Powell Boulevard. The flames ignited the eves and eventually the attic.

“Firefighters arrived to find fire and smoke coming from a second story unit,” Portland Fire & Rescue Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman said.

“Some crew members searched the building to confirm that all residents were out; others pulled hose lines to extinguish the fire before it spread to adjoining units,” Chatman said.

To put out the attic fire, crews from Woodstock Station 25 cut open the roof over the affected apartment, and another just to the north of it, and hosed the smoldering embers.

“All of the residents were safely evacuated,” Chatman said. “No injuries were reported.”

The Bureau’s Fire Investigator was on-scene while firefighters were working, working to find the fire’s point of origin. “Fire investigators have determined that the cause of this apartment fire was an improperly-discarded cigarette,” Chatman later told THE BEE.

This was the second smoker-related fire in Inner Southeast Portland within just two days, Chatman pointed out. “Please use fire-safe containers for used cigarette butts – preferably ones with a lid.”