The inferno erupted within a handful of minutes and drew fire equipment from all over

DAVID F. ASHTON - Shortly after crews arrive, firefighters were pouring vast amounts of water onto the blazing building in the industrial area of the Reed neighborhood. While investigating inside the collapsed and partly-melted shell of a warehouse after an all-night three-alarm blaze on June 7, fire officials made a grisly discovery.

As the sun arose on June 8, firefighters were still hosing down the smoking remains of the building, its charred sign reading "R.J. Templeton Associates / Commercial Parts Warehouse" – located west of S.E. 28th Avenue, between Schiller and Long Streets in the Reed neighborhood.

That morning, a Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesperson revealed, "Fire investigators received information that an adult male was in or near the warehouse at the time of the fire, which led investigators to focus their search for a body." And they found one. Weeks later, PF&R still apparently hadn't received the findings about the victim from the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office personnel who were called the scene.

"Fire Investigators received information that would indicate the individual was using an area just outside of the affected warehouse for temporary shelter," the spokesperson said.

But the huge fire itself, which started at twilight on the evening of June 7, drew fire equipment and personnel from across the city. "We first saw a cloud of dark heavy smoke coming up from the building, and then lots of fire," said Vasi of nearby Alpina Auto Body and Paint, as he watched all the firefighters pouring water on the blaze.

The initial alarm was dispatched at 9:25 p.m.; the PP&R radio channels crackled with reports from the first arriving of the eventual 30 crews, reporting "heavy smoke and fire venting through the roof" of the warehouse.

A third alarm was called approximately eight minutes into the incident, bringing additional crews and equipment to the area. To obtain sufficient water supply, firefighters hooked up their water lines to hydrants as far as three blocks away from the inferno.

Early on, a partial collapse of the warehouse's roof shot a tower of fire high into the air.

"Several crews, first-in to the incident, made an aggressive attack on the east side of the building, and prevented the loss of several homes. However, there still was damage to surrounding homes, properties, and cars," the Bureau's spokesperson reported.

Some of the vehicles sprayed down by firefighters, just south of the blazing warehouse, belonged to Gearhead Production Rentals – the company at which a mysterious fire burned two movie-production-outfitted RVs last August 19, as reported at the time in THE BEE.

By keeping them drenched with water, fire crews successfully saved homes just east of the fire; however, those with doors and windows open appeared to have experienced internal smoke damage.

So far, Bureau officials haven't commented on the cause of the fire, or given estimated damages, or have even been able to reveal the name of the man who perished in the fire.

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