PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Roads surrounding the intersection of Southwest Clay Street and 10th Avenue remain closed Wednesday after Tuesday night’s three-alarm church fire left the abandoned building charred and at risk of collapsing into the roadway.
The block-long stretch of Clay Street, which serves as a major access point for Highway 26, is expected to remain closed through Wednesday. The area of 10th Avenue is also used as a route for the City of Portland’s A Loop and NS Line Streetcar service.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation said that these closures are expected to cause “severe traffic delays” during the morning and evening rush hours in the southwest corner of Downtown.
The inferno at the former Portland Korean Church started just as the evening rush hour was underway, according to fire investigators, and was the site of a damaging interior fire in September 2020. Officials announced on Wednesday the remains of the church will be torn down.
TriMet shuttle buses have been put into service along the affected railcar routes to temporarily fill the gaps in service. Citizens can use the shuttle buses at no cost while the railcars remain shut down. The shuttles are set to stop at all affected stops, except the streetcar stop at 10th and Clay, which is also temporarily closed due to the adjacent church’s hazardous state.
Portland Streetcar spokesperson Andrew Plambeck told KOIN 6 that the railcar service currently remains affected by the possibility of the church collapsing. Any collapse, he said, could damage passing vehicles or the streetcar’s power lines.
“The street closure at 10th and 11th is due to concerns about structure collapse — especially around our overhead catenary wires — and potential that the building will need to be demolished for safety,” Plambeck said.
Drivers are advised to use alternate routes to reach 13th Avenue, which remains open and can still be used to access I-405 and Highway 26 onramps.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.