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Ore. FFs avoid collapse during VES at fatal church fire

Portland firefighters entered through a window to search for occupants in a second-floor apartment because of fire conditions on the first-floor

By Ted Sickinger

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two women in their mid-70s died Sunday morning in a three-alarm fire at a church in Northeast Portland.

Portland Fire and Rescue responded at 4:12 a.m. to a report from neighboring residents that a fire at the church on Northeast 62nd Avenue had spread to their home, and that there was an apartment on the second floor of the church building that housed members, according to a news release from the agency.


The fire started in the gymnasium of the Word & Spirit Church, near the intersection of Sandy Boulevard. Due to the intensity of the fire, the first crew on the scene was unable to access the interior stairs and tried to gain access through a second-story window. At that point, the roof partially collapsed and the incident commander ordered all crews to abandon the building and fight the fire from the exterior, the bureau said.


Crews were able to contain the fire at the adjacent home and the residents evacuated safely. Firefighters brought the blaze at the church under control at 5:50 a.m., and investigators on the scene confirmed that two women in their mid-70s had died inside. Their names were not released.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire, and it’s not clear yet how the blaze might have been connected to this weekend’s storm. At least two other people have died in the Portland area after trees fell on their homes. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner said Saturday it is investigating an additional death linked to hypothermia.

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