4-alarm blaze impacts 20+ businesses in downtown Hillsboro

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There is no word on what caused the fire

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — A massive 4-alarm fire damaged 20 or more business on Main Street in downtown Hillsboro Sunday morning, a fire so big and hot crews will remain on scene until at least Monday morning.

Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze. Their concern now is the front of the building may fall into the street because of the high winds buffeting the area. Main Street in Hillsboro remains closed between 2nd and 4th.

The first 911 came in around 2:45 a.m. and firefighters responded within minutes to the Weil Arcade building on East Main Street. Within 30 minutes, Hillsboro Fire and Rescue said the blaze had fully involved the structure.

Flames punctured the roof of the historic arcade building, “a pretty long building that stretches across from the south to the north on the block,” said Hillsboro Fire & Rescue’s Piseth Pich. “It got upgraded very quickly from first-alarm all the way to four-alarm within probably 15 minutes.

Pich said theare may be two dozen business suites in the building.

Around 7:20 a.m., HFR said most of the blaze was knocked down but crews are still extinguishing hot spots. According to TVFR, no injuries were reported

Scott Vandehey, a part-owner of Crystal Heart Books, said he learned about the fire when he woke up to a message from a customer who sent a picture of the burning building. He said the various fire departments who showed to help — including TVFR, Forest Grove, Banks, Gaston and PFR — did a great job.

“I was thrilled to see they rescued as much as possible,” Vandehey said.

At the firefighting effort’s peak, HFR says about 90 firefighters were on the scene.

Fire crews were able to keep flames from spreading to Vandehey’s store. “We did have a little smoke because we share a roof with the pharmacy next door,” he said.

The pharmacy is significantly damaged and will be closed for a few weeks, he said.

Fire officials said it will take some time to get an accurate assessment of the damage. Officials have not given a number of confirmed businesses that burned down completely.

A 4-alarm fire decimated businesses on Hillsboro’s Main Street on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022 (Hillsboro Fire Department)

They’re also looking for anyone who has cell phone or surveillance video of the fire to pass it along to the Hillsboro Fire Department.

“Our hearts go out to all the community members and business owners who are impacted,” Pich said. “The extent of that impact is not going to be known for a little bit and certainly we are grateful to our neighboring agencies who came out to assist us.”

According to the Hillsboro Water Department, nearby residents may have experienced some water discoloration and low water pressure as a result of the firefighting efforts. Once the fire was extinguished, residents were advised to run cold water taps for 10 minutes.

The city’s mayor, Steve Calloway, issued a statement in response to Sunday’s fire. In his statement, Calloway also of an apartment complex fire that displaced 17 people on Saturday.

“Our hearts go out to the families and all of the Main Street businesses affected by the fires. We and the community are here to support them in their recovery,” his statement said, in part. “In both fires, our firefighters did remarkable work. They stopped the apartment fire from spreading to other units. Their efforts to keep the Main Street fire from spreading was flat-out amazing. And it was a team effort with not only Hillsboro Fire & Rescue firefighters, but also our partners from neighboring agencies: Banks, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Gaston, Portland Fire, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. 

“We are also grateful for our partnerships with NW Natural, PGE, the Red Cross, TriMet, and others whose help allowed us to respond to both of these emergencies and support those affected.” 

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