Homes destroyed, pets perish in massive NE Portland scrap-yard fire

Chopper 2 photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – A fast-growing scrap-yard fire at Northeast 75th Avenue and Northeast Killingsworth destroyed several homes Monday, and an evacuation order for nearby buildings remains intact overnight into Tuesday morning.

Crews first responded to the fire around 9 a.m. in a lot piled with crushed cars at Northwest Metals. The fire was upgraded to a five-alarm fire around 10:45 a.m. Several hours later, the bulk of the fire was extinguished, but crews are still working to put out hot spots.

The fire will likely continue to burn to some degree through Monday evening and into the early hours of Tuesday. Crews will remain at the scene overnight monitoring hot spots.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports Northwest Metal sdidn't have any special permits to handle hazardous materials. Authorities are now checking the company's history and whether it needed special permits for the work it was doing when the fire broke out.

Flames destroyed a duplex and two small homes, displacing several families. They're being assisted by the American Red Cross, which has set up a reception center at 5740 NE Portland Highway.

"[My neighbor] is devastated," Tania Snedeker said. "Her animals were in there. She was at work and she couldn't get anything out... her house is gone."

Police say 16 cats have perished in the fire. At least 10 dogs from a nearby rescue were saved.

Firefighters evacuated the surrounding neighborhoods, going door-to-door contacting people in homes from NE 72nd to 75th avenues between Killingsworth and Alberta streets. Though the evacuation order may be lifted later Monday evening, power and utilities have been shut off for the day for those residents.

On the advice of fire officials, Portland Public Schools evacuated Sacajawea Head Start from their building on 74th Avenue. Parents of the about 115 students picked up their kids up at Scott School on 6700 NE Prescott Street. Students at Scott School sheltered in place.

People living in the Cully neighborhood might see some slight discoloration in their water. Portland Water Bureau officials said this is likely harmless sediment that was stirred up when firefighters tapped into the water supply. They recommend people limit hot water use and avoid washing light-colored laundry, and flush faucets once the fire activity has stopped.

Some pets have been offered temporary shelter at the nearby Gartner's Meat Market, which appears to be undamaged by the fire.

Animal advocates are asking people in areas affected by smoke and falling ash to keep pets indoors and avoid activities like jogging with your dog. They also ask anyone who sees an animal in distress that they are unable to help to call authorities immediately.

Crews closed Northeast Prescott Street from Northeast 78th Avenue to Northeast 82nd Avenue. Northeast Going Street, Northeast Wygant Street and Northeast Alberta Street are closed at Northeast 82nd Avenue to keep the area clear for first responders.

Portland Bureau of Transportation is helping Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland Fire and rescue with the street closures.

Fire officials tell KATU News that investigators won't be able to start looking for a cause until the fire is out, and it will likely be several days before they make an official ruling.

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