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Person Who Died in North Portland Tent Fire Was Using Candle for Warmth

Fire investigators estimate they have received two to three reports of tent fires a day in recent weeks.

A person who died in a North Portland tent fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 16 was using a candle for warmth and light, according to Portland Fire & Rescue.

"At some point," Fire & Rescue said, "the candle was knocked over and started a fire that quickly consumed the lightweight materials of the tent and contents inside."

The person, whose identity has not yet been released to the public, was sleeping in the tent when the fire broke out, according to Fire & Rescue. They suffered third degree burns to approximately 75% of their body.

Another adult escaped from the tent quickly, Fire & Rescue says, while "the other was most likely rendered unconscious from smoke inhalation and was unable to escape." The fire occurred near an on-ramp for I-405, close to the intersection of North Cook Street and Gantenbein Avenue.

Fire investigators estimate in recent weeks they have received two to three reports of tent fires a day.

"Tragedies like this sadden all of us at Portland Fire & Rescue," Fire Chief Sara Boone said Wednesday. "It is heartbreaking to see residents of our city living in these conditions and using unsafe means to keep themselves warm and meet their basic needs."

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees Portland Fire & Rescue, said with colder weather looming ahead, Portlanders must "act compassionately" and ensure that unhoused people have access to basic necessities like warmth and shelter.

"My heart breaks for this tragic loss as the streets of Portland claim another life from our houseless community," Hardesty said. "I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends suffering from this loss."