Fireworks have caused fatal fire at apartment in northeast Portland, authorities say
Authorities have determined that the fireworks caused the rapid fire that killed two people at an apartment complex in northeast Portland last weekend.
Portland Fire & Rescue said an investigation into the blaze, which engulfed apartments at Heidi Manor early Sunday, “remains open and ongoing.”
The blaze killed Seth Robert Thompson and Robert William Gremillion, both 31, longtime roommates and friends from Louisiana who worked together to develop computer games. Firefighters said Thursday that another person, Thompson’s girlfriend, 25, was still in critical but stable condition.
Residents who escaped, many of whom jumped out of back bedroom windows or balconies, said they first saw flames in a dumpster under the apartments, before climbing the stairs. Several also heard fireworks coming from the front of the complex before seeing flames around 3:30 a.m. on July 4.
Witnesses said Thompson jumped from the apartment’s outside porch, then slowly crossed the street to a sidewalk where neighbors tried to help him and provide CPR.
Other neighbors said they tried to blow up Gremillion after he got out of his apartment, but he was in shock and couldn’t escape.
Portland Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives both have investigators to assist the fire department, but both agencies referred all questions to Portland Fire & Rescue, who did not immediately respond to inquiries. questions Thursday.
Portland Fire and Rescue Chief Sara Boone Tuesday called the tragedy “preventable”.
“People weren’t very lucky,” Boone said. “The way this building was constructed had few exits. It’s not something you will see in new construction, but you will see plenty of exterior entrances to these garden style apartments, where people will be trapped on the second and third floors, and if their main route is a cage d common staircase, burnt down, the only avenue is to jump.
Portland has banned the sale and use of fireworks before the July 4 holiday. The ban is expected to remain in effect until July 14 at noon.
– The Oregonian / OregonLive