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The fire burned hot in an emcampment under the east end of the Sellwood Bridge but apparently there was no contamination

DAVID F. ASHTON - A chemical stench from the burned debris continued to emanate from this burned homeless encampment under the east end of the Sellwood Bridge, causing neighbors and trail users concern. But the fire department assured that no toxics were detected. An early morning fire that burned a camp situated under the east approach of the Sellwood Bridge along the Springwater Trail on Sunday, November 7, caused a social media firestorm of comments and questions in and around Sellwood.

Because members of the neighborhood association's Board, and many neighbors, chimed in on the incident via e-mail and social media, we asked "Sellwood Moreland Improvement League" President Simon Fulford for comment. He responded, "The SMILE community was very concerned about the recent fire in a small tent encampment under the Sellwood Bridge.

"First and foremost, neighbors were concerned for the safety and wellbeing of those who were living there; we've tried to find out if anyone was injured, and whether there is any support or assistance that we, as a community, can provide.

"Like all neighborhoods in Portland, we are also very frustrated by the seeming lack of progress being made by the city, county, or state to help and support our homeless and houseless neighbors to find appropriate permanent and affordable housing. The SMILE community is trying to take small steps to help how we can, here in Sellwood and Westmoreland, but we also feel like whatever we do will be just a small drop in a very large bucket of need."

PF&R provides information

Indeed, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) did respond to that fire when it was reported by a resident. Westmoreland Fire Station 20 firefighters arrived at about 6 a.m., and extinguished the fire using their onboard water supply.

"This, in fact, was a tent and contents on fire in a homeless camp," PF&R Public Information Officer Terry Foster confirmed. "There were no injuries reported."

According to residents and passers-by on the Springwater Trail, a strong chemical order arose from the encampment for quite some time after the fire. But Foster checked the report and added, "There's no report of chemical issues. The cause of this fire has not been determined."


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