At 2:45 a.m. Thursday, Portland Fire & Rescue was called to a large rubber pile on fire next to the grain silos of the Louis Dreyfus Dock located near the east end of the Steel Bridge alongside the Willamette River. Early notification of the fire came from a passing TriMet driver that there was a fire near Peace Memorial Park which initiated a single fire company response. Upon arrival, with the potential of fire growth due to the size of the fuel pile, a full commercial fire assignment was requested. The actual location was inside the former Louis Dreyfus Dock facility alongside the empty grain silos.
With access to the fire difficult due to the many freight line railroad tracks and the elevated streets relative to the location of the fire along with the danger of operating around active train tracks, a well thought out plan was enacted to keep firefighters out of danger while putting water on the fire.
In the end, 2 aerial master streams from the ladder trucks and a deck gun from a fire engine were put in play to apply large amounts of water to cool and eliminate the fire. After 40 minutes of solid water application, much of the fire was eliminated.
At the south end of the rubber pile, there were two connex storage boxes stacked on top of one another that were partially covered by the slope of the rubber pellet pile that appeared to have internal contents on fire. After a few attempts at opening the doors from a distance with a 12’ to 16’ long tool, access to the elevated box was achieved by stopping the water flow and placing a ladder of the surface of the pile to climb to the entry doors of the storage container.
During the time the crew was attempting to gain entry into the storage container, the fire had no visual growth with all water flow stopped. The entire pile was surveyed using specialized thermal imaging cameras to locate hot spots to find there were very few remaining locations of concern. This allowed command to release nearly half of all rigs on the incident. Shortly after the storage box was opened and evaluated, the fire was considered completely extinguished with all crews picking up hose and returning to their home stations. The bulk of this incident was completed in a 90-minute time span.
There were many challenges in this large rubber pile on fire. The distance from the fire hydrants required an engine to connect to the hydrant and boost the water pressure in the hoses to another engine located alongside the fire truck to further boost the pressure for the water flow from the tip of the aerial master stream in play off the ladder truck. This placed many thousands of feet of hose on the ground for the needed amount of water. This hose ran across freight train tracks, Max Train commuter railway tracks, and all the lanes of Interstate Avenue and the vehicular traffic in the west bound lanes of the steel bridge. In addition to the amount of hose and the concern for crews working around active train tracks there was an additional concern of the toxicity of the smoke emanating off the burning pile of rubber.
The fire investigators were on scene throughout the fire to aid in determining cause. No injuries reported.
Portland Fire & Rescue would thank our partners at PPB for blocking vehicular traffic and our partners at BOEC for communicating with the freight train lines and the commuter rail lines to stop train traffic to ensure the safety of crews on the ground.
Source: Portland Fire Bureau