Chris woke me up at 12:30 this morning with the words, "The house next door is on fire." I don't remember the last time I woke up so quickly.
We ended up standing in our driveway for the next two hours watching the fire get worse and then better as the firefighters cracked new holes in the roof. It was really amazing to see - thankfully, the residents in the only lived-in apartment got out safely, and the only injury was to a firefighter who cut his lip when one of the windows broke. Still, the tri-plex looks to be a total loss. Even the cars parked in front of the house were burned about 2-3 feet up the hoods.
I took a bunch of pictures last night (not using the flash, since I figured the firefighters had enough to deal with without me blinding them every few seconds), and when the fire kicked up again. I talked with a couple of firefighters who said they left at around 5am, only to be called back at 6:30 when it was apparent the fire was being stubborn. It's an older structure, and apparently had gone through a couple remodels which gave it multiple ceilings - making beating the fire down more difficult than it would've been otherwise.
Big kudos to the firefighters from the Lake Oswego & Tualatin Valley departments - I thanked the folks I talked to this morning for being there. Anyway, it was fascinating to watch, and a little too close to home. Literally.
Left: This is what it looked like when we first got outside; lots of smoke, and little bits of flame poking through small holes in the roof. At this point it had probably been burning since midnight. You can kind of see at the right-hand edge of the top of the roof that there's a firefighter up there cutting a hole in the roof. Right: As soon as the hole(s) in the roof opened up, the fire just leapt into the air. Most of the fire (and therefore firefighting personnel) was on the other side of the house from where we were standing, so all we saw for most of the time was these jets of water from the fire engines shooting over the top of the roof.
Left: More flames, as the fire kept brewing up and then being beaten back down. Right: A whole team of firefighters ended up standing in our driveway at the back of the house for awhile - possibly taking a break in between their "shifts" - whatever the reason, my neighbors and I felt more secure just having them close.
The fire kicked up again around 6:30am, and I walked down to the other side of the house around 8. The firefighters in these pictures are shooting that fire-retardant foam stuff into the roof and windows.
More fire-retardant foam being shot into the roof, after cutting larger and larger holes with a chainsaw. One of the fire investigators is in the bottom picture - they were taking all kinds of pictures this morning. I'll be really curious to know how it started.
Big, big thanks to the Lake Oswego & Tualatin Valley fire departments. Firefighters are people you don't know you're thankful for until something like this happens... And frankly, you probably wish you never even think about them. The guys I talked to this morning were really nice, and I'm very glad they're as enthusiastic about doing their job as they are.
There's a story about the fire here, along with video.