PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During Thursday’s morning commute, a fire spread from a homeless encampment near the Broadway Bridge and created difficult conditions for firefighters, Portland Fire & Rescue said.
Responding firefighters said heavy smoke was billowing from where the east side of the bridge meets the railroad tracks, but it was unclear exactly where the blaze was burning. A search of the area led firefighters to an engulfed encampment “rooted” under Interstate Avenue.
“The unstructured nature and proximity of all the belongings led to the fire quickly overtaking all the items and began to extend to grass and brush nearby,” said PF&R.
Firefighting efforts were further complicated by cyclone fencing, multiple rail lines and impinging heat setting off propane canisters, according to PF&R.
After about an hour, the fire was contained and put out. No one was reported hurt. The cause remains under investigation.
This comes about two weeks after a fire inside a makeshift tunnel under the Steel Bridge onramp on the east side occurred as people were camping in the area. Crews had to smash holes into the cinderblock to get to the fire and rescued one person inside who was injured.
They found there were several tunnels under the bridge’s onramp where people had been living.
KOIN 6 contacted commissioners Mingus Mapps and Rene Gonzalez’s offices – who are in charge of the transportation and fire bureaus – to find out what is being done to control these fires. They said that they are working on finding solutions, but did not provide specifics.
Firefighters told KOIN 6 that they want a larger solution to help campers have a safe area to live because they say fencing and concrete barriers are clearly not deterrents.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.