PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Flames climbed up the outside of a 4-plex in Northeast Portland early Monday and everyone got out safely because of the heroic efforts of a woman who was just driving by.
Kelly Walrath was driving by the apartment building in the 1400 block of NE 108th Avenue near Halsey when she saw the flames. She pulled over, got out of her car and began knocking on windows and doors to get people out. Because of her efforts, 18 people made it out alive and well before the flames engulfed the building.
“You could see it start to jump into the upstairs windows,” Walrath told KOIN 6 News. “We were getting people out. I was more concerned with getting people out and just trying to keep track of where it was on the outside.”
One of the residents, Alberto Naba, said he was woken up by the sound of “people screaming.” He managed to take some cell phone video of the blaze.
Fire crews said the blaze likely started outside the building, near the air conditioning units and electric washer-dryer, where grills and other outdoor cooking materials might be stored.
It’s possible some of it was used Sunday night and, depending on the fuel source such as a charcoal or wood stove, the fire could have spread into nearby combustibles and smoldered overnight, PF&R Capt. Louisa Jones said.
The Red Cross worked to find shelter for people chased out of their home by fire. The good news is no one was injured thanks in no small part to the heroic efforts of Kelly Walrath,