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NE Portland inferno spreads to multiple buildings

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Crews had the fire under control as of Monday night, but the cause is still not known

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Crews will be on the scene of a massive 4-alarm grass fire in Northeast Portland overnight, making sure it does not flare up again.

The blaze started around 5 p.m. near Northeast 85th and Siskiyou Street. Fueled by winds, it quickly spread to several nearby buildings, according to authorities, prompting evacuations on Northeast Knott Street and the closure of multiple roads.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much the dry brush we’re dealing with an the combination of wind with it really accelerated this fire and made it move quickly,” Portland Fire and Rescue Lieutenant Rich Chatman said.

Smoke could be seen from miles away Monday evening. Warm wind gusts were between 15 to 20 mph and coming in from the north-northwest. Winds are expected to calm down through the evening ahead of a warmer and windier Tuesday.

According to authorities, the fire started in grass and burned at least five town houses, destroying one.

The fire also destroyed Grand Avenue Boxing Club, a non-profit gym. A trainer there told KOIN 6 News that the four to five people inside the gym at the time safely escaped.

Dozens of cars were also consumed by flames. People nearby told KOIN 6 they heard explosions.

“We don’t know what they were being kept here for, but there were about 50 cars in a lot near the old driving range and a lot of those explosions could’ve been tires,” Chatman said.

Air quality monitors may be deployed. People who live in the area are being asked to stay inside and keep their windows closed.

Dozens of crews from all over the Portland metro area responded. Power was cut for several hours to help keep the more than 100 firefighters battling the blaze safe. About 12,000 customers were affected at the peak outage time.

Investigators have not confirmed the cause of the fire yet. KOIN 6 will update this story as we learn more.

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