PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Arson Investigators confirmed Sunday two people died in an fire that broke out overnight in an apartment complex in Northeast Portland.
Reports of an apartment fire at the Heidi Manor at 2226 NE Weidler came in around 3:30 a.m., according to Portland Fire & Rescue. Upon their arrival, crews found two buildings fully involved. The fire was upgraded rapidly ultimately resulting in 4 alarms.
Witnesses told investigators fireworks were heard in the vicinity of the apartment building but there is no confirmation that was the cause, according to PF&R.
“The magnitude of this fire moved so quick that people had little time to escape and many did not,” said Fire Chief Sara Boone.” This is a tragic day for our City. I want to first acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victims and their families. I also want to praise the heroic efforts of the firefighters and residents that worked together to save so many victims under extreme conditions. If not for their efforts there would be a much greater loss.”
Boone spoke Sunday afternoon at a press conference and said, “This tragedy was preventable.” She did not go into detail as to how the fire could have been prevented and said the investigation must be completed before they release more information.
“This was a fire that had rapid fire spread through multiple units, people jumping out the window, people walking through, people that had coded,” she said.
She said there were power lines coming down while crews worked to extinguish the flames and at the peak, there were about 120 fire personnel at the scene.
Boone was joined by Chief Ryan Gillespie, Lt. Jason Anderson, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, and Mayor Ted Wheeler at the press conference.
Anderson, who’s investigating the fire, said the investigation is still in the early stages. He’s encouraging anyone with information about any activity in the area between midnight and 3:30 a.m. to contact investigators.
“First and foremost, we do want to provide answers to everybody as to what the cause of this particular fire was, but also, we’re looking at the mitigating factors as to what resulted in the loss of life today,” he said.
Boone said the apartment complex did not have a sprinkler system. She said it was an older complex and that older complexes often do not have as many exits as newer complexes.
Hardesty and Wheeler both offered their condolences to the victims and the families of the victims who were killed in the fire. They also thanked Portland Fire and Rescue for their efforts.
“I know Portland Fire and Rescue did everything they could to save lives, but as you heard, this building went up like that,” Hardesty said as she snapped her fingers.
At the press conference, fire officials did not have an update on the status of the injured victims. They said all complex residents were accounted for and no one was missing.
Boone reminded the public to make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes and to come up with an escape plan in case of a fire.
A GoFundMe was created for one of the survivors, Willita Ross, who lost her home in the fire. To donate, visit GoFundMe.com.