People evacuated from natural gas explosion site in NW Portland: - KPTV - FOX 12

People evacuated from natural gas explosion site in NW Portland: 'We just ran for it'

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Site of natural gas explosion in NW Portland. (Image: KPTV) Site of natural gas explosion in NW Portland. (Image: KPTV)
Image: Air 12/KPTV Image: Air 12/KPTV
Image: KPTV Image: KPTV

People who were forced to evacuate their homes ended up running for their lives when a natural gas leak led to explosions in northwest Portland.

Tim Buckles lives in the Campbell Court Apartments, a building next door to the site of Wednesday morning's explosions.

A firefighter came to his door and told him he needed to get out.

"I got downstairs and ran into someone from my building and went into the courtyard and all of the glass from the lower level exploded pretty much all at once and we just ran for it," Buckles said.

Russell Tunes had his camera rolling and captured one of the blasts.

"I saw the entire side of the building blow up and hit the building across the street," Tunes said. "That's when everybody started running toward us."

Firefighters responded to reports of a gas leak at Portland Bagelworks at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street at around 9 a.m. It was determined the gas levels were dangerously high, leading to immediate evacuations.

Multiple natural gas explosions occurred and a fire erupted starting at 9:38 a.m.

"I wasn't sure if it was a terrorist attack," said evacuee Natalie Hutchinson. "I was just focused on getting out."

An auto glass worker was repairing a car right outside the bagel shop when the explosions occurred.

"All of a sudden, I heard a first boom and it was enough to knock everything out of my hands," said Nick Laford. "By the second boom, I had a fire department representative grab me and pull me down the road."

A man working in an office across the street watched it all unfold, including the efforts of firefighters to protect and rescue people at the scene.

"The firefighters were heroes," said Robert Ball.

Three firefighters and two police officers were among the eight people injured. Two firefighters suffered broken legs, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.

"Sorry I'm getting emotional, but our guys were out there keeping people safe," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales "It's damn near a miracle that no one was killed."

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