Business owners in NW Portland blast zone work to move forward - KPTV - FOX 12

Business owners in NW Portland blast zone work to move forward

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The view from the front window of Blush Beauty Bar, facing the epicenter of the blast. (KPTV) The view from the front window of Blush Beauty Bar, facing the epicenter of the blast. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

As investigators continue to sift through the huge pile of debris left behind in Wednesday’s massive natural gas explosion, business owners inside the blast zone are doing what they can to move forward.

It’s not an easy task.

Deborah Haynes opened Blush Beauty Bar in the heart of the bustling Northwest 23rd shopping district 12 years ago.

“Of course I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to do, but this takes you down a little bit,” she said, looking at the destruction around her.

Her front window used to face an iconic Portland building, but now – it’s gone. In its place is an unrecognizable pile of burned debris and shattered glass.

“The firefighters and the first response team saved lives. Bottom line. They saved my fiancé. He was here working,” Haynes said tearfully, adding that he was evacuated two minutes before the blast. “I – I don’t like to think about it.”

Her sound system and her windows were blown out, and now many of her products will have to be thrown out to meet health codes since they are covered in tiny shards of glass.

She had more product that usual in the store to gear up for the holiday shopping season.

Still – it’s nothing, she knows, compared to what could have happened.

“I was told that my space was being set up for a morgue, and that just hits you with the reality of how different this story could be and how lucky we all are,” she added.

Across the street, the jewelry shop Ritual Adornments is also inside the blast zone. It’s standing, but has extensive smoke and water damage.

Owner Joel Mikkalson doesn’t know when he’ll be able to reopen, but he’s determined to do it.

“When I was driving over seeing the billow of smoke, I didn’t know if it was still standing or not,” Mikkalson told Fox 12.

A few storefronts down, Kitchen Kaboodle lost nearly 20 windows

“We found [glass] in the paper napkins, we found it in the cookware,” said co-owner John Whisler.

One of the windows was at his desk, where huge chunks of broken glass now sit in a box. His desk and computer were damaged in the impact.

Luckily, he wasn’t sitting there when the blast happened. He was driving in to work about 15 minutes away.

“I’m starting to get gradually more freaked out how glad I am I wasn’t 15 minutes earlier coming to work,” he said, surveying the damage. “We are very lucky. The poor folks down the block…”

Luckily, it’s one of the stores that is open in a shopping district made up of families determined to rise above the rubble.

“I believe in people, I believe in human kindness and the spirit that is happening right now and I think everything is going to be okay,” Haynes said.

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