Firefighters injured in smoke explosion in SE Portland

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Crews battled a 3-alarm fire at a building housing 4 businesses at SE 13th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Fire & Rescue crews battled a large commercial fire that blew the windows off a multi-business building and melted nearby parked cars Monday in Southeast Portland.

Firefighters responded to a call shortly after noon about smoke coming from a building housing four businesses near the corner of SE 13th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard, PF&R said. Crews found heavy black smoke coming from a large roll-up door. When they entered the building to look for victims they ran into heavy fire, immediately upgrading the incident to a 2-alarm fire.

PF&R said the roof of the building has collapsed, presenting a greater challenge as firefighters struggle to get water to the fire. It was upgraded to a 3-alarm fire around 1 p.m.

Two firefighters working on the outside of the building were injured when a smoke explosion blew out the glass, according to PF&R. They were taken to a hospital with minor injuries and were expected to be released later in the day. No other injuries were reported.

Fire officials are conducting an investigation, and more details will be released following its conclusion, PF&R said. Several hours later, crews were still putting out hot spots inside the shell of what used to be Thai Touch, Riyadh’s Lebanese Restaurant, Really Good Stuff, and the Lounge Lizard vintage furniture store.

“Our hearts go out to the very best neighbors we could have,” Lounge Lizard wrote on social media.

People who work in the area said the damage is a huge loss for the neighborhood.

“It’s kind of sad because, I mean, the store was — had — a lot of nice stuff in it and it’s all gone,” said Dennis Pig, who works nearby.

“I was really concerned,” said another nearby worker, Kim Ellingson, “my heart was shaken and I was also concerned about the houses behind this building, too, so it’s just definitely a tragedy.”

Nick Schuurman, the owner of Grassa and Lardo located nearby, described the incident as “terrifying.”

“After the last year-and-a-half, the struggles to stay open, to kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and have something like this happen — I can’t even imagine,” he said.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty shared the following statement:

“Today there was a large 3-alarm fire that destroyed local businesses on SE Hawthorne and injured multiple firefighters. I sent my Chief of Staff to the scene of the fire as well as to the hospital treating those injured. I want to express my deepest appreciation to everyone at Portland Fire & Rescue, who despite a year of unique challenges between heat waves and wildfires, are willing to risk everything to keep the Portlanders they serve safe. I wish these brave firefighters and their families well as they recover from today’s tragedy. As the Commissioner in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue, I am here to offer them the support they need to maintain their mental, emotional, and physical wellness.”

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