Around 90 people forced from homes in three-alarm fire in downto - KPTV - FOX 12

Around 90 people forced from homes in three-alarm fire in downtown Portland

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Machaele Wilson and her dog Shadow are staying at a Red Cross shelter after a fire tore through their home in downtown Portland. (KPTV) Machaele Wilson and her dog Shadow are staying at a Red Cross shelter after a fire tore through their home in downtown Portland. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Investigators say the three-alarm fire that tore through a housing property in downtown Portland started in the mechanical room. Now, around 90 people have been forced out of their homes and they may have to be out for a matter of weeks.

Workers were on the roof of Hotel Alder Thursday afternoon to look at the damage, and there's a lot of work to do going forward.

Fire investigators say the inside of the building may have to be stripped down completely to let the wood dry in order to prevent mold. Then, things like Sheetrock and paint can go backup, and it all has to be finished before people can go back home.

A text message from a friend changed everything for Machaele Wilson.

"She texted me and said 'the building's on fire' and I said 'what,'" said Wilson.

She had been living at Hotel Alder for the last five year, and now, she and her dog are living at a Red Cross shelter.

"The fire department, from what I understand, went in my room, picked him up, threw him in the carrier and got him out of there. So I was glad of that," said Wilson.

The fire tore through the low-income property managed by Central City Concern Wednesday afternoon. There are 99 units on three floors. Some of the units were vacant, but around 90 people were displaced.

Many stayed with friends or family overnight. Others stayed at a disaster shelter that was set up at the First Christian Church on Southwest Park.

"It's been pretty emotional. It's a tragic event when you leave your home and you lose everything," said Scott Fine, Red Cross volunteer.

Volunteers, like retired EMT Scott Fine, are working around the clock to help the 51 people and nearly a dozen pets and service animals with whatever their needs may be.

"We're working with them to get their prescriptions refilled for them and get them back on their medications since they haven't been able to get back into their homes to retrieve that," said Fine.

With no word on when they can go home, or how bad the damage might be, people like Wilson can only hope for the best and wait.

"I don't know how that's going to work," said Wilson.

Investigators say the reason the fire spread so quickly is because of the building's steam pipes. They require a lot of open space, which allows flames to move very quickly.

The Red Cross and Central City Concerns are working on long-term shelter for the people who live at Hotel Alder.

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