A house fire on June 13 nearly claimed the life of an Ardenwald-Johnson Creek teenager – but his mom said that the door that trapped him in the bathroom also likely saved his life.
Clackamas Fire District #1 firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 9774 S.E. 38th Avenue at 8:04 p.m. that evening, and arrived to find the home ablaze – with fire already showing from the south end, and beginning to sweep through the attic and back eaves of the house. Mutual Aid was also received from Westmoreland Fire Station 20 and Woodstock Station 25.
"I heard screaming coming from inside the house; but police had already pulled up," neighbor Joshua Sanchez told reporters.
"A neighbor told crews there was somebody still inside in burning house," confirmed Clackamas Fire Public Information Officer Captain Brandon Paxton. "Crew members went to the back of the house and performed a 'Vent Enter Search' – a high-risk tactic in which firefighters enter a room without the protection of a hose line, to quickly search an area that has a high probability of having a surviving occupant inside."
Outside, the rear patio cover caught on fire. "It went up like tissue", a neighbor said.
"Inside the house, firefighters forced the door open to a bathroom where the person was located, and removed him from the house through a front window," Paxton described. "Locating and removing the patient was difficult, due to high temperatures and the low visibility, due to smoke."
The fire proceeded to gut the house; the task of firefighters was complicated by flames burning through an electrical service line and dropping it over Clackamas Fire Engine 302, energizing the rig. "Crews quickly transitioned pumping hose lines to another engine, already on-scene, until a PGE Eagle Crew arrived and disconnected the electricity," Paxton reported.
Days after the fire, resident Tammy Wilson said she had left cooking grease heating on the stove and had been distracted by their dog, when the fire broke out in the kitchen.
She told reporters that her son, 19-year-old Timm, is autistic and has Downs Syndrome, and was locked in the bathroom. "I threw my weight against the door and kicked it, but it wouldn't budge," Wilson said.
The heavy acrid smoke filling the house led Wilson to make the most difficult decision of her life, she said – to get out of the burning house and call for help.
"The hollow-core bathroom door was closed, and it likely contributed to the young man's being found alive by keeping the heat, flames, and smoke out of the bathroom for an additional couple of minutes," remarked Paxton. "Once extricated from the home, the patient was taken in critical condition to the Emanuel Burn Center; we also treated and transported the mother to Emanuel Hospital with minor injuries."
Fire investigators concluded their investigation of the fire on June 18, and officially ruled it an "accidental cooking fire".
Paxton added that the family has started a "gofundme" campaign to assist in the family's recovery at – www.gofundme.com/f/wilsonkruger-house-fire-fund
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