A working smoke detector saved three people from serious harm after an early-morning house fire was sparked Wednesday, Aug. 9, in Troutdale.
Investigators say a resident's cigarette butt ignited the exterior vinyl siding of the two-story single-family home located in the 700 block of Southwest Burlingame Circle.
Four engines and a smaller fire truck raced to the cul-de-sac after the first 9-1-1 call came in around 2:34 a.m. A woman and her two children had already escaped the flames, and no injuries were reported. A goldfish inside the home did not survive.
"(The mother) woke up to the sound of breaking glass, which I'm assuming was the living room window failing," explained Deputy Fire Marshal Kyle Stuart. "And as she was getting up to see what was going on, the smoke detector went off."
The conflagration chewed through the south wall's vinyl siding and was creeping toward the east and west walls when first responders arrived. Firefighters knocked down the fire by approximately 2:51 a.m.
The attic space was heavily charred by flames that spread from the outside wall through the eaves. Damage to the home has been roughly estimated at $178,000, though it is unlikely the structure will be declared a total loss.
"They need to go in and replace the roof and some of the trusses, and portions of the exterior," Stuart said.
Crews from the Red Cross responded to the blaze and offered emergency housing vouchers and other supplies to the mother and her two children. The father, who also lives in the house, was in Seattle at the time of the incident.
Stuart notes the summer season's dry weather can increase the likelihood of unexpected flames, especially for tobacco smokers.
"Make sure you put your cigarette butts in a noncombustible container, and when that container is full, discard of them properly," he warned. "Don't just throw them in a trash can."