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Roofers inadvertently spark fire at Brooklyn house

A workman's mistake causes $200,000 in fire damage to an Inner Southeast house

DAVID F. ASHTON - After setting up ladders in the day's strong east winds, firefighters were advised to fight the blaze from inside this vacant Brooklyn neighborhood house, rather than atop it. Alert neighbors called 9-1-1 just after noon on Tuesday, January 3, when they spotted smoke and flames erupting from a vacant house at 3602 S.E. 8th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Workers were scrambling to get out of the burning structure as Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) pulled up.

Engine 4 from downtown and the Hawthorne Bridge Fire Station's Engine 21 were the first to arrive, and reported back to dispatch seeing a column of smoke while en route to the location. Westmoreland Station's Engine 20 was on the scene two minutes later.

As they sized up the fire and deployed crews, PF&R command staff reported that the fire had spread throughout the attic space and roof line, and was being whipped up by the strong winds blowing across the two-story house.

"This fire shows how wind can move flames quickly through a home, and make it difficult for firefighters to conduct our normal operation, remarked Deputy Chief Dan Buckner. "For safety reasons, I could not assign a crew to be on that roof."

After battling the blaze for about 45 minutes, the fire was declared contained at about 1 p.m.

"PF&R Arson Squad Fire Investigators have determined the fire was caused by a combination of roof work that was being done, and the presence of high winds," later reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman. "Total damage is estimated at approximately $200,000."