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Investigators suspect arson in fire at Bank of America on Hawthorne

Portland Fire & Rescue crews called for a second alarm as they worked inside the building to extinguish the fire.
Credit: Night Stringers

PORTLAND, Ore. — Firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue responded overnight to a commercial fire in Southeast Portland, successfully containing it from spreading beyond the building.

The agency said that crews responded just before 3:15 a.m. for reports of a commercial fire near SE 37th Avenue and SE Hawthorne Boulevard. Photos from the scene showed that this was the Bank of America building, which sits just across SE 38th from Fred Meyer.

PF&R's first company to arrive at the scene reported seeing smoke coming from the front door of the one-story building. Fire crews soon called in police to act as traffic control.

Once inside the bank, firefighters reported encountering multiple hot spots, as well as a basement that the fire had not yet reached. Crews are able to use a ladder to access the roof, looking for signs of the fire's spread.

While firefighters continued to work inside the building, the company called for a second alarm to get more assistance with extinguishing the flames.

PF&R said that crews successfully knocked the fire down and recalled the incident around 4:30 a.m. Some crews remained on the scene, while the companies that had responded as part of the second alarm returned to their quarters.

The fire's cause is still under investigation by the Portland Fire Investigations Unit, PF&R said, however Portland police confirmed that it is being investigated as arson.

An initial statement from PF&R did not estimate how much damage the fire caused before it was extinguished.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.

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