by: RITA A. LEONARD - Portland and Milwaukie firefighters work to put out a house fire in the Ardenwald neighborhood, shortly before the Labor Day weekend. A barbecue gone awry at 8804 S.E. 31st in the Ardenwald neighborhood, just south of Johnson Creek Boulevard, set fire to a home on Friday afternoon, August 24. Although no one was injured, the house was heavily damaged right up through the attic.

Woodstock’s Fire Engine 25, based on S.E. 52nd just north of Steele, raced to provide mutual aid side-by-side with over a dozen pieces of apparatus from the Clackamas Fire District. Damage was estimated at $120,000.

The homeowner, a retiree, said he’d been using dead wood from a tree in his backyard as fuel for his barbecue for 20 years with no problems – but, this time, while he was seasoning his steak in the kitchen, the wind apparently caught the flames and blew them against the side of the home, which ignited. He used a garden hose and his own ladder to fight the flames on the outside wall, then noticed smoke up by the gutter and vents near the roof.

He finally phoned 911 for help at about 1:30 pm. Clackamas County Fire District spokesman Lt. Jeff Smith said fires should always be reported immediately, to minimize damage and danger to people and pets.

When firefighters arrived, dark smoke was pouring from the attic, and they raced to the roof with chainsaws to vent the roof and douse the flames from there. The blaze was brought under control shortly before 3 pm.

The living area sustained heavy smoke damage, and the kitchen received heavy water damage. The homeowner had been planning some remodeling to the house. Now, he says, he hopes to remodel and sell it. The following day, he added, was his birthday.

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