Multnomah County

Scrap yard fire 'billowing like tornado of flames'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- A 5-alarm fire that erupted around 9 a.m. Monday at a scrap yard in Northeast Portland continued to burn late Monday night, devouring a duplex and apartment building that caused at least 8 families to lose their homes.

The fire at NW Metal's scrap yard near 75th and Killingsworth also forced the evacuation of 115 students from the Sacajewa Head Start, who were taken by bus to Scott School for their parents to pick them up. Scott School continued a "shelter in place" for the rest of their school day because of the fire.

Sacajawea remained closed Tuesday. 

Smoke from burning tires include toxic chemicals of synthetic rubber compounds. Smoke may contain cyanide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other dangerous chemicals. Extinguishing these fires is difficult

- Oregon Public Health Association 

The fire destroyed a duplex and a 6-plex, but officials said the heavy smoke may have obscured other dwellings that were damaged. The Red Cross opened a reception center at 5740 NE Portland Hwy for people affected by the fire.

Lisa Troncoso, who lives near the fire, said the morning was beautiful before the fire overtook the day.

"It's horrible, it's really sad, you know. It's scary," Troncoso told KOIN 6 News. She took cell phone video of the fire, at one point describing the flames enveloping an "industrial pileup of funky cars" minutes before her neighbors evacuated their homes.

"It was just billowing like a tornado of flames," she said.

Salvador Candela -- who was honored by Portland Fire & Rescue in December 2011 for helping save lives -- said he only had time to grab some papers before the fire destroyed his apartment -- killing his birds.

"Everything is gone," Candela said. "I'm not working right now either, so it's going to be a pain."

Ronnie Lucero was more fortunate.

Lucero runs a pit bull rescue shelter at his home and was able to get all 11 dogs to safety.

Lucero said, "I'm happy I got them all safe. I didn't think I was going to make it to the last one, but I got them all."

Lucero described the dogs as being like "his kids."

Sixteen cats were also killed in the fire. Oregon Humane Society said those evacuating pets and needing a place to house them, should call the shelter at 503.285.7722. 

Portland Police and Portland Fire & Rescue also evacuated homes located on NE 75th west to 72nd and NE Alberta north to Killingsworth. Residents within a mile radius of the fire were advised to shelter in place, which meant shutting windows and turning off all HVAC systems due to air quality conditions.


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