Fire officials remind people to call 9-1-1 first

A Gresham woman sustained burns to her arm while trying to extinguish a fire sparked by an unattended candle.

The 48-year-old woman was in the kitchen talking to the 72-year-old man who owns the apartment in the 200 block of Southwest Florence Avenue at 12:29 p.m. Sunday, July 30, when she heard a popping sound, said Brett Swenson, Gresham Fire and Emergency Services fire investigator.

Thinking the noise was coming from outside, she opened the front door and saw smoke circulating from the back of the apartment. She ran to a back bedroom, opened the door and saw that the mattress was on fire.

Hoping to smother the flames, she tried to flip the burning mattress, but this didn't help extinguish the fire. Instead, it burned her upper arm, Swenson said.

It was only after she failed to extinguish the fire that the woman and the man fled the apartment and went to a neighbor's to call 9-1-1.

However, other neighbors in the complex, which is part rental and part owner-occupied, had already called 9-1-1 after seeing flames coming from the bedroom window.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, which Swenson said was sparked by a candle left burning in the bedroom.

The woman refused medical treatment at the scene, Swenson said. 'We're lucky she didn't get seriously hurt,' he added.

Damage to the apartment is estimated at $25,000, with loss of contents estimated at about $3,000.

Swenson reminds residents to never leave candles burning unattended, to immediately get out of a burning structure and to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible in the event of a fire.

'When you've got a fire, get the heck out and call 9-1-1,' he said. 'Let us take care of it.'