PORTLAND, Oregon — A memorial honoring Portland firefighters in the line of duty was recently damaged and vandalized. The memorial has stood near Burnside in southwest Portland for almost 100 years.
The David Campbell Memorial has long been forgotten by many Portland residents, and instead been trashed and spray painted. This week, someone removed brass name plates of firefighters who gave their lives.
"It's just senseless vandalism," Don Porth, a retired Portland firefighter said.
The memorial is named after a former Portland Fire Chief. On June 26, 1911, Campbell and other firefighters responded to a fire at the Union Oil Distributing plant. He borrowed a coat from one of his men and went inside the plant to fight the fire.
But an explosion blew off the roof and Campbell died inside. He was the first firefighter in Oregon to die on duty. After his death, the citizens of Portland built the David Campbell memorial in his honor. After subsequent firefighters died on duty, plaques with their names were added to the memorial.
But now, the memorial has long been damaged.
"Now they're literally destroyed, damaged,” Porth said. “You know, disappeared."
Porth spent 27 years as a Portland firefighter. Now, he takes care of the memorial. He said vandalism is common, but this damage is worse than any he’s seen. Brass name plates have been stolen, Italian limestone was broken and lenses of lanterns were shattered this week.
"It's a shame that people go about and vandalize an area like this," Christian, a homeless Portland resident said.
Christian has lived on Portland’s street for years, and spends much of his time in southwest Portland. He said he often sees people vandalizing the memorial.
"Imagine being a firefighter that's died," Christian said.
Christian said it isn’t uncommon for people to sell brass. He said it goes for $3 a pound.
“It’s been 95 years and nothing like this has happened,” Porth said.
Now Porth said renovations for the memorial are planned for next year. Until then, he said plaques will likely be taken out of the memorial and stored somewhere safer.