'No imminent threat' of collapse at evacuated downtown Portland - KPTV - FOX 12

'No imminent threat' of collapse at evacuated downtown Portland building

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A 10-story downtown Portland building was evacuated due to the threat of collapse Tuesday morning.

Crews responded to the scene at 1400 S.W. 5th Ave. at around 11:30 a.m. A large crack was seen outside the building.

At one point, debris fell from the side of the building. 

By 2 p.m., firefighters and engineers determined there was "no imminent threat" of a collapse. 

"It does appear like there is a big oval bubble," said an eBay employee who was evacuated from the building.  

Oregon Health & Science University also leases space in the building. One OHSU worker who was evacuated said lights started flickering and a fire alarm went off, followed by a voice over the speakers telling people to evacuate the building and not to use the elevator.

She said the first thing that came to her mind was 9/11.

"Now it might not have been that drastic, but it's really scary because I've been here for 18 years and never have we experienced anything like this," she said.

Firefighters said engineers were able to go inside the building and they determined the damage was to the exterior of the building and it was not structural. 

"They found that the building was structurally sound," said Battalion Chief Andy Ponce, with Portland Fire & Rescue. "We don't have to worry about the building collapsing." 

Ponce said he was not aware of any other similar calls regarding damage to this building, which was built in 1950. 

"Right now what they're doing in the interim to reoccupy the building is they're putting up a sidewalk protection plan that will include scaffolding along the SW 5th Columbia and Clay Streets so that pedestrians can circulate and then people can access the building safely," said Ross Caron with the Bureau of Development Services.

Traffic was shut down within a few blocks of the building, but streets began to reopen by 2 p.m.

TriMet reported that MAX service has been disrupted in the area, with no service to stations on 5th or 6th Avenues and other routes diverting around the area. By 2 p.m., all MAX and bus service was resuming normal operations. 

A cause for the damage to the building was not immediately known. Commissioner Dan Saltzman said the owner of the building will have engineers conduct an investigation. 

"The city will want to know the results of those investigations," Saltzman said. 

KinderCare has a child care center in the building. The company released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it was not clear whether the center would be open Wednesday, but parents would be notified. 

Teachers and children at our downtown Portland KinderCare center evacuated the building during lunchtime after the building's fire alarm went off. Our teachers are prepared for emergency situations and were able to safely and calmly evacuate every child from our center to our designated evacuation area at a nearby business. They're also calling parents now and parents are picking up their children.

A 24 Hour Fitness gym is at the base of the building. The company issued a statement advising customers to check the gym's Facebook page for updates. 

All club members and employees were moved to safety.  The club is currently closed.  We are cooperating with local authorities and are currently awaiting their instructions.  The safety and security of our members is our first priority.  We will update our club members about the club status as authorities provide further details.

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