Firefighters detail narrow save of home during Portland church fire

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:51 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - After a massive fire burned a historic church building down in downtown Portland last week, new details have been released about how Portland Fire and Rescue acted quickly to save a home right next to the church.

The fire broke out at about 5:30 in the evening back on Jan. 3 at the Old Portland Korean Church at SW 10th Ave. and Clay. The fire saw a huge response from Portland firefighters. Right next door is a home with several tenants that firefighters worked quickly to save. At a Thursday news conference, firefighters who were on said hoses had to be brought inside the house and stopped the fire in its tracks.

“On the third floor we worked in conjunction with crews that were on the second floor, getting into the walls and fighting the fire from the inside out,” said firefighter Greg Rose.

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While the church may have been a total loss, those who grew up in the church are grateful firefighters were able to save the home next door. Tae-Sun Kim says her father was a church elder, and the home firefighters saved was used as a Sunday school and community center before the congregation relocated away from downtown.

“The reason why the church was so important is because it was a community within a community,” said Kim. “It provided activities and community for senior citizens, after school programs, we had mentors.”

Kim says she and her family were devastated when they learned the fate of the church building last week. But they are grateful at least one of the buildings, where she had so many happy Sunday school memories, still stands.

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“It was the one time usually during the week when you were just immersed in your heritage and culture,” said Kim. “Everybody kind of looked like you: the sounds, the smells, it was wonderful.”

No one was hurt in the fire. 25-year-old Cameron Storer has been charged with arson and has already made a court appearance. Investigators say Storer came to the Multnomah County Justice Center and confessed to starting the fire.