Shelter open for 92 displaced by Hotel Alder fire

The First Christian Church on SW Park is open for the residents

A 3-alarm fire broke out at Hotel Alder in downtown Portland, Wednesday, January 4, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A fire burned through several floors of a low income housing building in downtown Portland Wednesday, displacing 92 people.

The fire at the Hotel Alder on SW Alder Street and 4th Avenue started around 3 p.m. and quickly escalated to a 3-alarm blaze.

When Portland Fire & Rescue crews arrived, they found smoke on multiple floors and fire traveling all the way to the roof. Firefighters battled the flames in freezing, windy conditions.

“It’s been a problem for us all week,” Lt. Rich Chatman said. “We had a house fire yesterday with a lot of issues with the high winds. Same problem here.”

Several residents were unable to evacuate on their own, so firefighters went in to rescue them. Crews cleared the inside stairwells to prevent trapped residents from having to get out by outside fire escapes or fire engine ladders.

One man who lived at the Hotel Alder said he was just watching TV when he heard the fire alarm go off.

“I didn’t know there was a fire,” Sean Dickenson said. “I opened my door and that is when I knew there was a fire because it blew me across the room.”

He said yelled out that he couldn’t get down. Soon after, firefighters burst through his door and pulled him to safety. He said he was thankful but shaken up.

Like others in the building, Dickenson said he didn’t know where he was going to stay and that all his life’s belongings were inside his apartment.

“I’m scared out of my mind,” he said. “I’m freezing as it is. I dressed for a 15 minute alarm. Usually you go out for 15 minutes and go back up. I don’t have family or friends. I grew up in foster care I don’t have anywhere to stay and I just payed rent yesterday.”

The apartment building may be completely uninhabitable due to fire damage.

With the bitter cold this week, rescuers worked quickly to find a place for nearly 100 people to go. The Red Cross Cascades set up a temporary shelter at the First Christian Church for the residents.

Residents are encouraged to go to the church at 1314 SW Park for help.

One person received medical treatment, but their condition is unknown.

Hotel Alder is a low-income apartment building with 99 units owned by Central City Concern.

The apartment building is above the Rialto Poolroom and Bar.

Lt. Rich Chatman with PF&R said the fire started with a malfunction of some kind with the electricity and heat equipment in the building’s mechanical room. The fire traveled in the space used by steam pipes, which is why the fire department doesn’t allow that type of steam pipes anymore.