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Sparks from a short in a clothes dryer caught the house on fire -- and nearly torched another as well

COURTESY OF BRUNO MATULICH - Flames shot from the front of this Sellwood home, just moments after an electrical short in a clothes dryer had set it ablaze. A hot-burning house fire in Sellwood, whipped by wind, almost set the next door house ablaze along with it – on the stormy Tuesday evening of January 12.

When several different neighbors across, and down, the street saw thick smoke and flames shooting from the home at 1831 S.E. Bidwell Street, they called 9-1-1.

Portland Fire & Rescue responded at 5:15 p.m. A PF&R Battalion Chief arrived at the scene, followed by a crew from Woodstock Fire Station 25; a total of ten units eventually were on hand at the fire.

The resident of the house stood with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, watching the firefighters at work. A person comforted her, reminding her that at least her children had not not home when the fire broke out.

"I was putting clothing in the dryer – it's electric – and when I pushed the start button, sparks started flying and lighting things on fire," the resident told THE BEE.

DAVID F. ASHTON - While trying to avoid energized electric lines, firefighters spray water into the back corner of this Sellwood home - set afire by an appliance malfunction.Adding danger to firefighters' work was that the electrical service was still connected to the house as they were working to extinguish the fire. At one point, water shorted out the electric lines and a shower of sparks flew, illuminating the rainy sky.

Crew members from PF&R's Burlingame Station, west of the Willamette River, on S.W. Taylor's Ferry Road, arrived on Truck 10 and laddered up to the roof of the adjacent house, looking for any signs of ignition from the flying embers.

With fire ripping through the first home, the 996 square foot structure built in 1909 appeared to be gutted. It's not known extent of the damage, if any, to the adjoining home.


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