Lake Oswego firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at the Kruseway Commons apartment complex on Monday afternoon after the unit's two residents were unable to extinguish the flames.
LOFD Fire Marshal Gert Zoutendijk said the fire began around 2:30 p.m. when a saucepan was left unattended on the stove and the contents began to smoke. The occupants were alerted when the apartment's smoke detector went off, he said; one of them rushed to turn off the stove, but "just as he reached to turn it off, it burst into flames," Zoutendijk said.
One of the occupants ran to find a fire extinguisher while the other attempted to smother the fire by covering it with spare clothing, Zoutendijk said. The effort was only partially successful — the stovetop was still "an active fire" when firefighters arrived at the scene a few minute later, and they were able to put it out using a fire extinguisher.
A fire hose was connected to a nearby hydrant, but did not appear to have been used on the fire.
At the time the call came in, two LOFD units were busy assisting with a vehicle crash on Highway 43, so units from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Portland Fire Department were also dispatched to the scene. Zoutendijk said six engines were dispatched in total, plus several SUV units.
Zoutendijk said the number of responding units was triggered because of the "high risk" of an apartment fire spreading to connected units.
"It elevates everything (about the call), because the potential is so high," he told The Review.
In this case, the fire was extinguished before it spread further — Zoutendijk said the fire was out by 2:45 p.m. The stovetop unit and the cabinets above it were all burned, and Zoutendijk estimated the damages at about $7,000-$8,000.
He said it's best to try to smother a cooking fire using a pot lid or a plate because it forms a more complete seal than the clothing, which can have air gaps.
"We obviously don't recommend people leave the stove and cooking food unattended," he added. "It's still one of the leading causes of fires in Oregon, and it's so easily avoidable."