Gas explosion destroys NW Portland, OR building, 8 injured

Large plume of smoke could be seen from many parts of the city

ORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three firefighters, 2 police officers and three others were injured in a large gas explosion on Wednesday morning in Northwest Portland.

The incident happened at NW 23rd and Glisan in the Dosha Salon Spa building. Portland Fire and Rescue confirmed the injuries and said no one died.

Lt. Rich Chatman said the injuries to the firefighters were not life-threatening and included broken legs. One of the firefighters was being taken into surgery on Wednesday afternoon for the broken leg.

The gas explosion damaged buildings. (Twitter/@suppleleopard/PF&R)
The gas explosion damaged buildings. (Twitter/@suppleleopard/PF&R)

The officer’s injuries were not significant, he said.

Two of the firefighters and the officer were taken to Legacy Emanuel hospital. The others were taken to OHSU.

By 12:30 p.m. only one person remained at Legacy Emmanuel. Three people were released and the 4th person is a firefighter suffering from a broken leg.

Firefighters were inside the building at the time of the explosion investigating a reported gas leak.

Around 100 firefighters were on still scene fighting hotspots and assessing damage around noon, Chatman said.

The COO of Dosha Salon Spa Kimberly Johnson tells KOIN 6 News that the salon was evacuated before the explosion happened. She said all of her employees were safe.

Allison Williams, who was inside Dosha at the time, told KOIN 6 News, “We came in to start our day at 9 a.m. and smelled something funny, so we called the gas company. They promptly told us to get out of the building. We were outside and not that far from the building when we heard and saw these huge booms, the building exploded, the glass was shattered and it instantly burst in flames. It was pretty scary.”

Williams said firefighters and police were already on scene to test for gas. Once the explosion happened, Williams said the firefighters “were instantly in action. Smoke made it hard to see, but they were instantly doing their job. They were amazing.”

Johnson said Dosha recently celebrated 25 years in business. They had a flood and recently rebuilt, she said, and had been back open for about the past 7 months.

This is what the building looked like before the gas explosion. October 19, 2016, (Google Maps)
This is what the building looked like before the gas explosion. October 19, 2016, (Google Maps)

The building has won many architectural award and currently has owner-occupants, Johnson said.

Employees at Portland Bagelworks say they were evacuated before the explosion as well and that all of their employees are accounted for. They tell KOIN 6 News a construction crew warned them to evacuate after hitting a gas line.

Gas company NW Natural says a 3rd party caused damage to a gas line. The cause of the ignition is unknown and the gas is now off.

Many witnesses told KOIN 6 News they heard a loud explosion and buildings in the area shook. Plumes of smoke could be seen from many places in the city.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is on scene investigating the explosion. It is protocol for them to come when large explosions occur, Lt. Chatman told KOIN 6 News.

The three blocks surrounding the building in all directions are closed.

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