PORTLAND, Ore. -- Investigators think hoarding contributed to a house fire that injured a woman in North Portland Friday.
Eunice Crowder received a settlement in 2004 from the city of Portland after she was Tased and pepper-sprayed by Portland police, who were responding to complaints about the hoarding at the time.
She suffered second-degree burns in the 3 a.m. fire and was taken to Legacy Emanuel hospital burn center where she was listed in critical condition.
Investigators said a heating pad started nearby items on fire, which spread to Crowder's clothes as she tried to extinguish the flames.
Fighting the Friday fire was difficult, said Lt. Joseph Troncoso. The inside of the home was piled with clutter, he said. Firefighters reported that the piles were chest high. The fire was at the back of the home but difficult to reach because of her possessions.
Crowder won a $145,000 settlement from the city of Portland in 2004 from the incident the previous June in which she was jolted four times with a Taser by Portland police. She had sued the city in federal court.
A call about trash in her yard had prompted a visit from city nuisance inspectors who arrived with orders to clean up her yard. Crowder, then 71, was uncooperative. The photo at left was taken during a KGW interview in 2003.
When police arrived, she reportedly tried to bite and kick the officers. She said she was legally blind and hard of hearing, making it hard to comply with what the two male officers were saying. They hit her with pepper spray.
A prosthetic eye fell out of its socket during the incident.
The pepper spray ran through and down her nose.
“It stung,” she told KGW at the time. “It made me feel like I was choking. It made me angry. I was having trouble breathing. Nobody seemed to care.”
In addition to being Tased and sprayed, she was cited for harassment and interfering with a police officer.
The Oregonian reported at the time that she was taken to North Precinct in handcuffs, then returned to her home where she lived with her 91-year-old mother.
In response to the suit, the city told the newspaper " the officers' actions were 'lawful, justified and privileged,' and said they used a 'reasonable amount of force to defend themselves and others against what they reasonably believed to be plaintiffs' use of unlawful actions and force against them."
Her attorney Ernest Warren Jr. told the paper "to kick the crap out of old folks seems a little bit much to me in the name of law enforcement."