Fire investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a northeast Portland house to go up in flames Tuesday morning.
The first crews arrived at the scene in the 1100 block of Northeast 117th Avenue around 1:20 a.m. and reported heavy fire coming from the roof of the home, which has stood in the Hazelwood neighborhood for more than 70 years.
No one was in the house at the time of the fire. In fact, neighbors told FOX 12 the home had been abandoned for years and they were worried that something like this might happen.
Some neighbors said that the property had become something of a nuisance home recently, adding that they believed homeless people often squatted there.
Additional fire crews were called to the scene to help protect neighboring homes, with firefighters saying there were concerns about the blaze spreading from tree tops to the houses next door.
Ken Erck lives right behind the property and saw the fire burning overnight.
“A little bit embers were flying in the air pretty high, and I’ve got a cedar tree, but everything is so wet that it’s not going to catch on fire,” he said.
Fire officials said the efforts to put out the blaze were hampered by the partial roof collapse, as well as a downed power line.
Crews were able to get the fire under control, with a few remaining on scene through the morning to put out any hot spots that flared up.
The home is likely a total loss and may be destroyed, a plan that some neighbors called a good thing.
“We just really were worried because having an empty house in the neighborhood like that isn't good and you see a lot of homeless people and vagrants in the area,” Tammy McKinley, whose son lives in the neighborhood, said. “And I’m sure, maybe people are sneaking in there.”
Other neighbors say they've routinely seen people breaking into the home and living there off and on. FOX 12 did find a number of nuisance complaints filed with the city concerning the house.
The home was owned by a Portland couple, but they died about four years ago. The couple’s daughter told FOX12 a bank now owns the property.
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