PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fire officials say plans to demolish the Portland Korean Church have been pushed back following the massive fire that virtually destroyed it.
Although the demolition was initially planned for Thursday morning, Portland Fire & Rescue announced it had been delayed until Friday morning at 10 a.m. PF&R says it will be a slow, methodical operation and there’s no estimated timeframe for completion.
Ken Ray with the Bureau of Development Services told KOIN 6 that the demolition was halted Thursday as the property owner sought additional bids.
“We’re monitoring the situation closely and can intervene if we need to, to get it [the demolition] to happen,” said Ray. “It’s something that needs to be done carefully. We’re in contact with the owner.”
The nearly 120-year-old building went up in flames Tuesday evening when PF&R says Cameron Storer, who also goes by Nicolette Fait, ignited the fire. The 27-year-old was arrested Wednesday on charges of first and second-degree arson and second-degree burglary.
Storer told authorities they had broken in and used a cigarette lighter to ignite papers inside the church, then left and watched the fire from a nearby Plaid Pantry.
The church located on Southwest 10th Avenue and Southwest Clay Street was vacant in recent years and was reportedly boarded up and locked at the time of the fire. KOIN 6 News attempted to reach the owner of the church to find out why it wasn’t in use but did not hear back.
Fire officials were concerned high winds could topple the church steeple over, forcing crews to accelerate plans to tear it down. Since the church poses a risk to the public, the City of Portland on Wednesday authorized the demolition without a permit.
Investigators used a drone to explore the burned wreckage since it was determined unsafe for firefighters to enter.
“They flew it in there and determined that one of the columns that holds up the entire steeple feature is completely burned out so there is a concern that with the wind and the structural compromise that there could be some collapse prior to demolition,” said Rick Graves with PF&R.
Surrounding streets are closed as safety barricades and fencing around the church remain in place. Officials ask people to continue to avoid the area.
Stay with KOIN 6 for continuing coverage.