Electric wheelchair sparks fire in Hillsboro

HILLSBORO, Ore. - An electric wheelchair sparked a fire at an apartment complex in Hillsboro early Thursday morning.

The woman who lived at the apartment where the fire started was treated for smoke inhalation and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, Hillsboro Fire and Rescue spokesman Bruce Montgomery said.

"She could smell smoke ands he wasn't sure if it was incense or what it was," said fire investigator Martin Stapleton. She "heard like a zapping sound and then all of a sudden the flames. Poof, there's flames."

Firefighters were called to the Rolling Green Apartments on SE 44th Avenue around 12:30 a.m. They found smoke coming from a second-floor window when they arrived.

The automatic sprinkler system in the building had extinguished the fire, but firefighters still went apartment to apartment to make sure nobody else was injured.

The woman in the apartment where the fire started managed to pull an emergency alarm when the fire started that set off the sprinklers.

"The good thing is the sprinkler system they had in the unit was able to keep the fire in check," Stapleton said.

In all, six apartments were damaged on the first and second floor of the building. The first apartment suffered fire damage, while the rest had damage from smoke and water.

A chaplain from the fire department worked with a local home care facility to provide shelter for residents of the damaged apartments, Montgomery said.

The apartment's owner said the 24-unit complex is designed to help people with disabilities live independently, although it is not a care facility.

The building was built with special walls that can resist flames for several hours and managers had emergency evacuation routes in place.

"We go above and beyond to make sure our residents feel safe," said manager Reid Jackson.