Brushfire below Ross Island Bridge burns homeless camp
When the call went out at 9:58 p.m. on Friday night, July 21, that a brushfire was burning beside the Willamette River and below McLoughlin Boulevard at S.E. Franklin Street, Portland Fire & Rescue command staff were concerned that the blaze would get out of control.
The tall dry grass in the area burned quickly and the fire began spreading, as a light summer breeze pushed the fire northward, ever nearer to the Ross Island Bridge.
Firefighters from several area stations were dispatched, but a PF&R Wildland Fire truck and units from Downtown Station 1 was first to arrive and start fighting the fire.
Because there are no hydrants below the bluff, crews needed to pull their water lines across the highway from the corner of S.E. Franklin Street, so police temporarily closed McLoughlin Boulevard to all vehicle traffic to protect the hoses.
"Fire crews were able to stop the fire while it was still relatively small, keeping it to an area of about 50 by 50 feet in size," later reported PF&R spokesman Lt. Damon Simmons.
"We've seen small fires in the area; there are a lot of homeless camps between McLoughlin and the Springwater Trail," said Brooklyn resident Elise Waterston as she watched the firefighters at work.
The cause of the fire has not, as THE BEE went to press, been officially released; but Simmons did report that a homeless camp was burned, adding, "No injuries were associated with this fire."