Man catches house fire on camera, shows bystanders what not to do

PORTLAND, Ore. - A man ran toward an intense house fire in North Portland. He was looking to help, but he may have made the fire worse.

Firefighters said everyone can learn what to do, and what not to do, from how this would-be rescue attempt unfolded.

Tristan Twohig was riding his motorcycle home from work after midnight Monday morning when he smelled something burning.

"It's a very distinct smell that wasn't a camp fire. It was a house," said Twohig.

He told KATU News he was able to sniff out smoke coming from an abandoned house on N. Fargo St. and N. Williams Ave. because he's trained as a firefighter.

He worked as a volunteer firefighter in Alaska. He immediately called 911 for help.

"The dispatcher got an earful because I was hollering to try and see if there was anyone inside," explained Twohig.

A storm was blowing through Portland at the same time Twohig found the house on fire. He was worried someone might have gone inside the abandoned house to get shelter from the wind and rain.

Twohig kicked the front door in to look around before firefighters arrived. He didn't find anyone inside.

"I didn't get a foot or two in before it enveloped in smoke and flames started shooting out," said Twohig.

He caught the flames growing on his cell phone camera.

"I was actually looking for my flashlight and the camera came up first," explained Twohig.

When Twohig opened the front door, he let oxygen into the house. That fed the fire, which made the flames grow. Firefighters said Twohig is lucky he didn't get hurt.

Firefighters want the public to know they don't recommended anyone going inside of a house with smoke coming out of it, or with flames showing. They said the safest things bystanders can do is to not panic, call 911, and alert the neighbors. Twohig did those things right.

Fire investigators are still trying to figure out how the fire started. They estimate the damage at $30,000.