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The building was reportedly unused, and the cause of the conflagration, and the blast as it started, are still unknown

PF&R IMAGE - Just before this two-alarm fire was declared to be a defensive battle, firefighters were at the door of the burning unoccupied building on S.E. Powell Boulevard near Cleveland High. A driver on S.E. Powell Boulevard, early on Sunday, October 24, saw flames leaping from an abandoned building just west of 28th Avenue, across from Cleveland High School, and called it in to the 9-1-1 Center.

As Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews were being dispatched at 2:31 a.m., two minutes later, a passing AMR ambulance radioed in, "There's a house that's fully involved in fire on the southeast corner of 28th and Powell – and the house behind it is catching fire as well."

Four minutes later, Central Precinct officers were dispatched with orders to completely close down Powell Boulevard to traffic, as the fire equipment began to arrive. Shortly after the initial dispatch, a PF&R Battalion Chief on his way to the fire, told dispatchers to add an additional Engine and Truck Company to the incident.

PF&R IMAGE - Keeping their distance, firefighters battled the fire from the street level - and from above, using Ladder Trucks. Powell Boulevard was completely closed for hours to facilitate the defensive fire attack. A crewmember riding Rescue 21, the two-person rig stationed on S.E. Powell Boulevard at Milwaukie Avenue, radioed in, "The structure is fully involved [with fire], raise this incident to 'two alarms'."

The first Engine Company arriving came from Woodstock Fire Station 25 on S.E. 52nd Avenue. Within minutes, other engines and trucks arrived, ultimately bringing 84 firefighters to the scene.

Upon his arrival, the PF&R Battalion Chief commanded, "Defensive attack" – meaning that no firefighters were to enter the fully-engulfed structure, due to its loss of structural integrity.

DAVID F. ASHTON - By the light of day the following morning, it was clear that the burned empty building had been reduced to smoldering rubble - and that the other structures nearby were also damaged by the blaze.  The crews worked through the night, and long past dawn, to put out the fire and then make sure there were no remaining live embers.

"The unoccupied structure on S.E. Powell was a total loss; the occupied nearby residences to the east and south were damaged by the fire," a PF&R official told THE BEE.

Later that morning, neighbors told news reporters they'd heard a "loud explosion" of some sort in the house, just before the fire started.

So far, PF&R Fire Investigators haven't revealed the cause of this blaze, or a dollar figure for the loss; but the fire is still under active investigation.


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