"Multiple firefighters" hurt in Portland blast


Three firefighters, three civilians and two police officers were injured in a natural gas explosion that completely destroyed a building at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street in Portland Wednesday morning.

An explosion has rocked a neighborhood in northwest Portland. Eight people were injured in the blast, including three firefighters. Rich Chatman said none of the injuries to the firefighters is life-threatening.

An employee at a nearby kitchen accessories store said he was in the washroom when he felt a huge explosion and emerged to find thick smoke and haze. A powerful natural gas explosion that neighbors said felt like an quake rocked the busy injuring two firefighters and two civilians.

TV showed a building in the popular shopping district that was reduced to rubble.

Portland Fire and Rescue confirmed the five injuries and said no one died. Details on the civilians were not immediately available.

Gas company NW Natural reports a 3rd party caused damage to the gas line. That person "applied force" to the gas line.

About 20 minutes later, a "significant explosion" occurred inside the building while were on the scene, Chapman said.

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The Utilities and Transportation Commission says the cause of the Greenwood explosion that devastated part of the business core in March was a damaged gas line that was listed as abandoned in Puget Sound Energy records but remained connected for years.

Crews from NW Natural Gas and Portland Fire & Rescue responded to the report of the natural gas leak and chose to evacuate the building.

The building that suffered the most damage is a multiple-story structure.

He was visited by the fire chief. He and other firefighters also made a decision to don their air packs and protective masks before the blast because something "just didn't feel right", Myers said.

Witnesses tell KOIN 6 News they heard a loud explosion and buildings in the area shook.

It "was going for their building all the way into our building and everywhere", he said.

Authorities credited firefighters and police officers with saving lives by reacting quickly to evacuate the building. The exterior of one side of another building had been ripped off, its windows blown out. "I thought I was [in] an natural disaster".