Portland, Oregon Blaze Causes A Million Dollars In Damage

A wholesale gift store in southeast Portland went up in flames early Wednesday morning, quickly turning into a four-alarm fire that was battled by more than 100 firefighters and caused over a million dollars in damge.

It took fire crews about four hours to bring the blaze under control, but firefighters were still on the scene at 7936 SE Stark St. over 13 hours later as they continued to struggle with hot spots burning in hard-to-reach areas under a collapsed roof.

Lead fire investigator Gary Farland estimated damage from the fire at $1.1 million. He said the building housing Gifts & Toys, Inc. was destroyed; two other adjacent buildings suffered severe water damage.

As of Wednesday night, officials said no cause had been determined. Arson investigators were at the scene, preparing to search through debris for clues once the blaze was completely extinguished.

Some 120 firefighters from throughout the Portland area had helped battle the blaze. They focused from the beginning on controlling the fire and keeping it from spreading.

By day's end firefighters said they were relieved efforts to protect surrounding buildings had paid off: "Crews did an excellent job of stopping the fire spread," said fire incident commander Gary Warrington.

One firefighter was taken to a local hospital with what appeared to be a sprained or broken ankle. No other injuries were reported, according to Neil Heesacker, a spokesman for the Portland Fire Bureau.

Firefighters believe the blaze started just before 5 a.m. in the basement of Gifts and Toys. That's when they received a 9-1-1 call from a person at a nearby phone booth who reported seeing flames coming from the building.

Within an hour of that call, the fire had grown to four-alarms.