The same week that demolition crews finished tearing down the fire-damaged building at 408 SE 79th Ave, Portland Police apprehended the person they believe set that building ablaze. The early morning fire from April 19th consumed the two-story building that housed the Portland Garment Factory, forcing that business to close until they can relocate. The arrest of the accused arsonist should alleviate community concern over a repeated incident.
On June 9th, Portland Police took a 48-year-old woman into custody on charges of second-degree arson and reckless burning related to the April 19th incident. Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) said an executed search warrant yielded evidence connecting the suspect to the fire. According to a June 10th Willamette Week story, investigators received a tip from a community member who had witnessed the accused’s activity near the fire. In addition, that same witness identified the person in the surveillance video of the incident by her clothing and gait.
Although authorities have found a suspect in the incident, the damage caused by that fire is significant. Montavilla now has a vacant lot where a historic building once stood, and a business lost everything overnight. Fortunately, Portland Garment Factory will reopen in a new location, thanks in part to a GoFundMe campaign that collected over $118,000. Eventually, a new building will replace the one lost, and the damage suffered in the community will fade from memory. Until then, residents can consider the incident resolved and look to better events in the future.
UPDATE – Earlier today, the editor took this article offline while investigating a reported error. A reader said that the accused person was no longer a suspect and released. However, an official confirmed that the person arrested for this crime was released on pretrial supervision. The DA is proceeding with the grand jury.
Montavilla News will not publish the accused person’s name until convicted.
This month, Portland Street Response (PSR) expanded its boundaries beyond the Lents neighborhood. Starting April 1st, PSR teams will offer a non-police response to a larger area that includes the eastern half of Montavilla. With the expanded service area comes a broader service scope that now includes public spaces inside buildings.
The PSR program officially launched in late February with a new approach to specific emergency calls. The program diverts non-violent calls involving people experiencing houselessness or behavioral and mental health issues to specialists equipped to resolve those situations. At launch, the program only addressed incidents occurring outdoors and did not have staff enter buildings. The recent changes permit the teams to enter publicly accessible spaces such as a business, store, or a public lobby. PSR is not responding to calls within a private residence.
Initially, the PSR program used Portland Fire & Rescue’s boundary system called Fire Management Areas (FMA) to assign calls to their team members. Within a month, it became apparent that they missed calls outside the FMA that PSR had the capacity to address. As a test, PSR will switch to using the Portland Police Bureau’s police district areas to determine their response zone. That change has lead to the increased service area that now includes Montavilla from 82nd Ave to I205.
Dispatchers determine what calls are assigned to fire, police, and PSR staff. Requests for assistance with any situation should continue routing through 911 or the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333. However, if you live in the expanded service area, there is a possibility that PSR could handle your call. A potential PSR response will encourage some residents to reporting situations that they may not have before. Many concerns don’t require a police response but instead, need trained specialists to de-escalate a situation.
People interested in following the PSR team’s progress can use a newly created dashboard to view aggregate metrics regarding calls and a heat-map of activity. Expect to see more PSR dispatches in Montavilla soon.
Around 7 AM this morning, a one-block section of East Burnside Street was closed due to downed power lines. Portland Police Officers barricaded both traffic lanes for the 7000 block of the roadway, allowing PGE crews to remove the energized cable safely. Traffic was allowed to pass by 7:50 AM.
Power lines feeding the duplex at 5 NE 71st Ave became dislodged from supporting mounts and fell across E Burnside Street. PGE cut power to several homes during the repairs, still underway. This latest incident is one of many infrastructure disruptions caused by the recent winter storm. Tree limbs damaged by heavy ice continue to fall, causing damage to suspended cables and property. Repair crews are only now catching up with work orders and restoring regular service.
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