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Police officer, off-duty firefighter rescue Oregon woman from house engulfed in flames

One man died in the fire that broke out in Fairview early Thursday morning.

GRESHAM, Ore. — Gresham Police Officer Tim Taaca is trained to deal with crimes, not fires.

"Never been a firefighter," he said.

He felt like one early Thursday morning.

Taaca was on patrol when he heard over the radio reports of a fire near Northeast Interlachen Lane and Fairview Lake Way in Fairview. Taaca was only a few blocks away so he raced to the house.

"When I got up to the driveway I saw an elderly female stuck on a balcony with flames shooting in the air at least 30 to 40 feet," he said. "The balcony she was on there was black smoke pouring out of the door behind her."

Credit: Gresham Fire
The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Taaca knew time was of the essence. The woman indicated there was a man still inside the house.

"My first thought was seeing if he got out another way, and I went around to the front of the house, west side of the house, and it was hot and burning there and the smoke was thick and I didn't get a response," Taaca said. "Couldn't get inside."

Taaca turned his attention back to the woman stuck on the balcony, and he was not alone. By this time an off-duty Portland firefighter, who happened to be driving down and spotted the flames, had stopped to help. The two found a ladder and used it to rescue the woman.

"I'd like to think myself and the Portland firefighter were able to save the lady from a pretty awful death," Taaca said.

Sadly, Taaca and the firefighter could not save the man. The flames were just too thick and the smoke was too thick for the two to get inside the house.

"It's unfortunate that someone lost his life," he said. 

Taaca believes this could have ended much worse had he and the off-duty firefighter not been in the right place at the right time.

"It was just acting on instinct and training."

Authorities have not released the name of the man who died. They will after family is notified.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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