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Investigators: Fireworks caused deadly NE Portland apartment fire

Robert Gremillion and Seth Thompson, both 31, died in the fire at the Heidi Manor apartments on the Fourth of July.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Investigators have determined that fireworks caused the deadly fire at a Northeast Portland apartment complex on the Fourth of July, according to Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R).  

The fire happened at the Heidi Manor Apartments on Northeast Weidler Street near 22nd Avenue. Robert Gremillion and Seth Thompson, both 31, died. Kelsi Edmonds, 25, remained in the hospital until Oct. 18 where she died of her injures.

PF&R had announced a ban on fireworks in the city of Portland ahead of the holiday, citing hot, dry conditions that posed an extreme fire danger.

When fire investigators revealed Thursday that fireworks were to blame for this tragedy, KGW spoke to residents living in the area to hear their reaction. 

"I don't have a lot of good comments about that," said Ron Weesner. "Everyone was asked to avoid fireworks that day, so people who don't think rules apply to them are the problems all over and here."

"It's terrible," said Sharon Cota. "You can't bring back the damage that's been done."

"And a whole bunch of people lost their homes," Cota added. 

Around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, firefighters found two of the three Heidi Manor apartment buildings fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters called for additional help from crews across the city, and they were able to stop the flames from destroying one of the buildings in the complex.

Fire investigators heard from several neighbors who said fireworks were going off before the fire started.

"They need to figure out who's doing these things," said Cota.

PF&R said the investigation is ongoing.


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