Portland Fire & Rescue Investigators are at the scene compiling information at this time. They are asking anyone with pictures, video and/or details regarding the fire this morning at NE MLK and NE Monroe to call Inv. Rick McGraw at 503-823-3797.
At 4:14am Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to a commercial fire at NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Monroe St. Multiple calls were received as many citizens could see a rapidly growing glow and column of smoke. The initial companies called for a second alarm response before their arrival as they could see from several blocks away that the smoke column and fire glow indicated a large volume of fire. They arrived to find a five-story apartment complex fully involved in fire. The building was under construction and had no residents.
"I'm amazed at how fast the fire spread from just a couple rooms to all five floors. It just seemed like a couple of minutes before the whole building was on fire" said a neighboring resident.
Initial arriving crews went to work protecting homes nearby, and with the assistance of Portland Police, began evacuating nearby homes. A third alarm was called when a neighboring house caught on fire. The Portland Water Bureau was asked by PF&R to increase water pressure to the area of the incident. Soon after fire crews arrived they were forced to move their apparatus further back as the building began to collapse. At that point a fourth alarm was called. After the building collapsed, all firefighters were accounted for and a few minutes later, a fifth alarm was called.
Firefighters used a defensive strategy and attacked the fire from outside the building. Arial ladders were utilized to dump the most amount of water possible on the fire. Roughly 135 Portland firefighters responded to the incident including one engine company from the Vancouver Fire Department. This amount of response places stress on the resources available to respond to additional emergencies. PF&R staffed reserve fire apparatus in order to maintain quick response to other emergencies in the city. Neighboring departments also helped by responding to emergency calls in the outlying areas of the city. PF&R also worked with NW Natural and Pacific Power to mitigate additional emergencies in the area.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman were on scene being briefed on the situation by PF&R Fire Chief Erin Janssens. The fire was brought under control at 6:32am. Firefighters are still on scene extinguishing hot spots and will remain on scene throughout the day. It's estimated that over 1.5 million gallons of water have been used in extinguishing this fire. Fire investigators are working closely with ATF agents who were called to assist PF&R investigators with the extensive investigation. The American Red Cross and TriMet was also called to the scene to assist affected citizens. Updates with the fire cause and damage estimates will be given as soon as they are available.
"I'm proud of the efforts of our firefighters. Based on the size and severity of this incident, I am very pleased that no citizens or firefighters were injured." Said PF&R Fire Chief Erin Janssens.
Damages are being estimated at $4 million. The cause is currently being investigated. No human or pet injuries reported.
Lt. Rich Chatman PIO, media pgr 503-940-6003