Smoke alarm credited with saving man and his animals

On the last day of 2012, a man sleeping in his singlewide mobile home in the 32000 block of Compton Road in Boring was suddenly awakened at about 5:30 a.m. by the blare of his smoke alarms.

He rushed to get himself, his two dogs and one cat out of the home, which he did successfully, said Tammy Owen, spokesperson for the Boring Fire and Rescue.

In the process, however, Owens said the man received cuts to his hands and feet.

Fire Marshal Pat Bigelow told the Post the man sustained the cuts while he was frantically searching the mobile home for his animals and breaking windows so they would be able to escape.

“I can only imagine the first few minutes (after waking to the sound of smoke alarms),” Bigelow said, “must be pretty intense for anybody.

“He was so fortunate that he had a working smoke alarm. Singlewides fill with smoke so quickly.”

Firefighters from Boring and Sandy responded to extinguish the blaze, which was seen by the first responders as very heavy black smoke coming from the roof, with flames in the bathroom.

Fire crews quickly connected hoses to a source of water, and the fire was extinguished.

One of the dogs was located, and the man’s family members searched for the other dog and cat.

Four days after the fire, Owen said, the dog and cat were still missing.

The victim of this fire was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released for cuts sustained before exiting the home.

Offering mutual-aid, Gresham Fire and Rescue provided cover at the Boring Fire Station while the fire was being extinguished.

Bigelow remained on scene to conduct an investigation. He initially listed the official cause of the fire as “undetermined,” but told the Post last week he suspects it was either a cigarette or something disposed in a trashcan that caught fire or possibly an unattended candle. By last Wednesday, Bigelow had ruled out an electrical malfunction. By the end of the day last Thursday, he had decided the fire resulted from an unattended candle.

Damage to the mobile home was estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.

The homeowner’s successful exit, Owen said, was aided by the smoke alarms, which awakened the man.

If he had not awakened until he smelled the smoke because he didn’t have smoke alarms, Bigelow said, the result could have been tragic.

Mobile homes, typically, allow fire to spread quickly, and there are usually fewer exit choices, Owen said. It is especially dangerous if a fire starts in the middle of a mobile home and blocks the path to the nearest exit.

Fire alarms should be installed on every level of a home, Owen said, and outside every sleeping area.

For information about installing smoke alarms or any other fire safety information, call Owen at 503-663-4638.

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