Woman, puppy rescued from cesspool in SE Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland firefighters rescued a woman and her puppy after they fell into a collapsed cesspool in her backyard Tuesday night.

She was looking for her 12-week-old Newfoundland when she fell into the hole, which was 20-feet-deep and 3 1/2 feet in diameter.

The woman lives near Southeast Clinton Street and 39th Avenue.

A neighbor heard her cries for help from the bottom of the pit and called 911.

Crews from the Portland Fire Bureau arrived around 7:25 p.m. and immediately used ropes and ladders to get the woman and her dog out.

Portland Fire and Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman said firefighters at the scene were amazed the woman and her dog were not seriously hurt.

The 33-year-old woman is in good shape. She told KATU News on Wednesday that it was scary and debris was falling on her while she stood in waist-deep water and sewage. She said she tried to keep her mind on getting help.

Now, the woman is focused on her options to get the hole fixed. The city of Portland says she is financially responsible for the nearly $500 city permit and the work to fill the cesspool with sand and gravel, which can cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

"Most homeowners don't know they're there," said Mike Runyan with Environmental Works. "In fact, we run into them quite frequently when we're doing sewer line replacements."

A neighbor, who shares a property line, and the woman who fell in the hole had been required to do some recent work on their sewage system. The company completed that work in the last month and the city of Portland completed an inspection of the work.

A spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Development Services said the work did not require the city or the company to look for or inspect cesspools, although the homeowners feel they should have seen it and warned them.

City records show a cesspool existed on the property when it was built in 1909.

Crews put a temporary cover over the cesspool for now.

The woman does not want her name released

KATU's Erica Nochlin and The Associated Press contributed to this story.