Oxygen tanks may have caused Gresham apartment fire

Crews were fighting the fire in the 21900 block of SE Alder Drive

An apartment caught on fire in Gresham, January 12 2016. (KOIN)
An apartment caught on fire in Gresham, January 12 2016. (KOIN)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Dozens of people are without homes in freezing weather due to an apartment fire in Gresham, officials say.

Crews battled the fire at the Aldercrest Apartments in the 21900 block of Southeast Alder Drive.

Chopper 6 flew over the building where heavy smoke and flames could be seen.

The fire erupted from a downstairs apartment. Nearby residents reported hearing explosions, with one man telling KOIN 6 News it sounded like a tree fell onto his building. A wall of flames was at his front door, so he jumped from a second-story balcony to get to safety.

“No, I didn’t have time [to think]. I had all this adrenaline,” the man said.

A frozen fire hydrant delayed response, and firefighters had to use others nearby. In total, the fire destroyed 8 units of a single building.

Fire officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire, but they said the explosions neighbors reported hearing may have had something to do with oxygen tanks in the downstairs unit.

“Crews are inside now, and they are seeing the walls are pushed out, and cabinets are at an angle, so there’s been some type of explosion,” said Todd Keathley with the Gresham Fire Department.