Firefighters snuff fire in Southeast Portland home equipped with solar panels
Firefighters knocked down a fire in a Southeast Portland home this morning, maneuvering around solar panels that pose a threat of electrocution.
The operation went smoothly, with the fire brought under control in less than 30 minutes thanks to the solar panel installation, said Paul Corah, spokesman for Portland Fire Rescue.
The panels were placed in accordance with a new Oregon building code that went into effect last year, requiring installers to leave space on the sides of panels and on the top of the roof to give firefighters room to put their ladders and cut out sections as needed to let heat escape.
That’s what they did in this fire at 2226 S.E. 55th Ave.
Corah said the fire started in the first-floor kitchen then spread to the second floor. Firefighters opened up an area of the roof opposite the panels, allowing the fire to vent while firefighters attacked from inside the house.
Investigators suspect the fire was caused by a toaster oven. No one was injured.
Corah said the fire was the first time the new code was tested — and it worked.
If the panels had covered the roof, firefighters would not have been able to break it open: Solar panels cannot be turned off like other electrical sources. The fire would not have been able to vent and that would have made it worse, Corah said. As it was, the fire caused about $70,000 worth of damage.
– Lynne Terry
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