PORTLAND - A late-night fire sent neighbors scrambling and did thousands of dollars in damage to an outdoor garden room in Northeast Portland, Monday night.

According to Portland Fire & Rescue, the fire started in a barbecue at a house on the 2900 block of NE 8th Avenue, just before midnight.

Myesha Simms lives at the house and said she and her family had been enjoying a barbecue earlier in the evening.

Just trying to barbecue some burgers and hot dogs, said Simms. We live in Portland, we don't get (the sun) that much.

But hours after the Simms went to bed, the barbecue was still burning. Then, said fire investigators, a hot ember fell into a bag of charcoal briquettes resting beneath the 20-year-old grill.

I guess there's a hole at the bottom so some of the ashes seeped through, said Simms.

The grill caught fire, spread to a nearby tree, which then caught the neighbor John Rafalski's outdoor garden room on fire.

Within minutes, (the fire) went from a faint orange glow behind the garage to just this roaring fire, said Rafalski. It was just unbelievable ... the garden room was a labor of love, he said.

Rafalski said insurance would cover rebuilding the garden room, which was once a garage. But, he said, the renovation won't be for him, since the house is for sale.

We expected to close (on the sale) within the week, he said.

(Grills) have hot ashes and embers after the barbecue, and those embers could actually be hot for days, said Corah. What I suggest is taking those hot embers and putting them in your garden and have a garden hose near by.

As for gas grills, Corah suggested removing any spare propane tanks from under the grill before using it, and always turning the propane off when you're done.

It's amazing how no one got hurt, said Simms.

(Simms) obviously feels very, very bad, said Rafalski.

And those on both sides of the fence said they're feeling very lucky that everything lost in this fire can be replaced.

Corah said as the weather heats up and vegetation dries out, they could see many more barbecue fires.

Be vigilant when you're barbecuing, or use outdoor fire pits, he said.

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