Food cart owners look to rebuild after six are burned in early-m - KPTV - FOX 12

Food cart owners look to rebuild after six are burned in early-morning fire

Posted: Updated: Jul 21, 2015 07:42 PM

Several food carts near the campus of Portland State University were destroyed by fire Tuesday morning.

The fire started just after 4:30 a.m. at the food cart pod on Southwest Fourth Avenue between Hall and College streets.

Crews from nearby Fire Station 4 responded quickly from their station is just around the corner. However, the food carts were engulfed in flames when they arrived..

Witnesses said the fire could be seen from their apartments.

"I saw a big bright light," Alex Andresen, who saw the blaze, said. "I looked down, turned out to be a 15-foot high fire."

Firefighters had to be extra careful of the propane tanks attached to each cart. Two were leaking when crews arrived on scene, but thankfully none of them ruptured.

When the fire was out the investigation started, and food cart owners were able to see the extent of the damage.

Six food carts were damaged, with four being total losses.

The location is one of the busiest for food carts in Portland, with hundreds of customers coming through for lunch every day.

Achilles Lam opened Rice and Noodle in Portland six and a half years ago. His cart was a total loss in the fire.

“I don't know how to say, just sad, very sad,” he said. "I hope fire department can find out what happened. And then I'll wait for insurance to cover. Then I'll rebuild it, open again." 

As Lam took in the charred remains of his cart, a regular customer walked up gave him a check for $1,200 to help him rebuild.

“I don't know how to say… so touched,” Lam said. “Can you believe that?”

Customers like that, Lam said, are the reason he plans to re-open Rice and Noodle in this very spot as soon as possible.

“This is a very good location,” he explained. “A lot of regular customers come back to me. I'm happy…”

An assistant fire marshal told Fox 12 food carts don’t have to follow building fire codes because they don’t count as buildings. Fire inspectors do educational site visits, where they give owners safety recommendations, and owners are required to get annual propane permits.

There is no word on the cause. Fire investigators are still investigating all leads.

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