A pile of scrap cars caught on fire Monday morning in Northeast Portland, sending into the sky a massive plume of black smoke visible for miles.
The blaze eventually spread to a nearby apartment building and duplex, destroying eight to 10 units.
The Portland Fire Rescue Bureau said piles of scrap cars were burning, in addition to tires and other items. The cause of the fire has not yet been identified, but officials confirmed early afternoon that the blaze started in an auto wrecking yard.
No injuries have been reported and nothing indicates anyone has been trapped because of the fire, said Capt. Louisa Jones, a Portland Fire Rescue Bureau spokeswoman. Numerous pets, including 16 cats, died in the residences, however, she said.
The fire is still throwing up a massive plume of smoke. Wind is driving the smoke to the west. pic.twitter.com/9tzf7gft15
— Jim Ryan (@Jimryan015) March 12, 2018
Jones said the fire, in the area of Northeast 75th Avenue and Killingsworth Street, is expected to continue burning for hours, and fire personnel plan to remain at the scene overnight.
Authorities are evacuating an area bordered by 75th and 72nd avenue, and Killingsworth and Alberta streets. Authorities are going to home to home and asking people to leave. Areas extending 1 mile from the fire have been declared a shelter-in-place zone, meaning windows should be closed, outdoor activities stopped, and air circulation systems shut down.
This is the current map of the 1 mile shelter in place zone. NOTE: red small circle in the very middle is the evacuation zone and those homes need to evacuate. #PDXFire #alert pic.twitter.com/UZX3YS8F1v
— Portland FireRescue (@PDXFire) March 12, 2018
Officials said people in the area should avoid breathing the black smoke coming from the fire. They advise people leave the area if possible or otherwise close doors and windows.
Portland Public Schools shortly before 11:30 a.m. said it was heeding fire officials’ advice and evacuating more than 100 students from canceling afternoon classes at Sacajawea Head Start School on 74th Avenue. Buses will take students to Scott School, 6700 Northeast Prescott St., where parents can pick them up.
Scott School is under a “shelter in place” order. Roseway Heights and Rigler schools officials are monitoring the fire but have taken no action yet.
— Dan Tilkin (@DanTilkinKOIN6) March 12, 2018
The bureau said Killingsworth and other roads are closed because of the fire, which is burning in a scrapyard near Gartner’s Country Meat Market.
— Claire Anderson (@ClaireKOIN) March 12, 2018
The fire, first reported at 9:05 a.m., was upgraded to a fifth alarm about 10 a.m., when the bureau said it continues in the “free-burning” stage.
The bureau said battling the fire is complicated by 20 to 25 mph winds and water-supply problems in the area. Firefighters are using the maximum water supply, Jones said.
— Tommy (@thispdxlife) March 12, 2018
Firefighters and police were going to homes adjacent to the scrapyard to evacuate residents as they try to protect the houses from the fire.
Portland International Airport, which is north of the fire, continues to operate normally and no flights have been delayed, airport officials said.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation earlier said Prescott Street from 78th to 82nd avenues was closed, and Going, Wygant and Alberta streets were closed at 82nd.
The Red Cross said it is setting up a shelter to help the displaced, though it hasn’t yet released details.
— The Oregonian/OregonLive