A Gresham firefighter remains in critical condition after responding to a burning apartment

Joelle Jones and Aimee Plante

11 minutes ago

Gresham firefighter Spencer Tejedas is in critical condition after battling a duplex fire on May 30, 2024. (Courtesy: City of Gresham)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – More than 10 days after a Gresham firefighter responded ran into a burning duplex in southeast Portlandthe four-year veteran and father of two remains in critical condition.

Still intubated at Legacy Emanuel Hospital with burns covering over 45% of his body. Spencer Tejedas He has already undergone three surgeries, according to Fire Chief Scott Lewis.

“I have had cases where firefighters have been injured; none are as bad as Spencer,” Chief Lewis said. “He is still a very sick, very hurt young man and has a long road to recovery ahead of him.”

On May 31, Tejedas and two other firefighters entered a burning home at Southeast 182nd Avenue and Madison Way to find a disabled child they believed was inside.

A woman who asked to remain anonymous told KOIN 6 News what it was like when her neighbor came home after a fire in her apartment and knocked on the door in a panic.

“She tried to break things to get into the house, but she couldn’t,” she said. “And then I don’t remember, I just take the kids and run away.”

As she and her children fled the flames, Tejadas ran inside. But when he and his colleagues entered the duplex, their team discovered the teenager was already safely out of the house.

“We expect our firefighters to be in a situation like this at any time, and it turned out to be a bad one – a really bad one,” Lewis said. “So I believe that our firefighters seeing this happening to them will give them pause to consider their next journey and their choice of career as a firefighter in the city of Gresham.”

The two injured firefighters were treated and released from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, but authorities said Tejedas suffered severe burns to nearly half of his body and was transferred to the Oregon Burn Center for treatment.

The department continues to investigate.

“We owe it to every man and woman that works here, and to Spencer, to be as proactive as we can,” Chief Lewis said. “If there’s something we’re doing wrong, something we’re not training them for, or decisions we should have made differently, we need to identify that and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Lewis said initial information showed the fire was caused by an unattended candle and that contact with Tejedas may have been lost after his radio melted.

Friends founded GoFundMe to help Tejedas’ recovery

“I’m very, very sorry for what happened to him and I hope his condition gets much better,” said an anonymous neighbor. “And may God help him.”

KOIN 6 News will continue to closely monitor Tejedas’ condition as this story develops.