911 calls released in downtown Portland building evacuation - KPTV - FOX 12


911 calls released in downtown Portland building evacuation

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FOX 12 has obtained the 911 calls made Tuesday when people first discovered something wasn’t right at a building that evacuated in downtown Portland.

One of the first people to call 911 was a man working inside the Fifth Avenue Building when he heard part of the facade on the fourth-floor start to crack.

Caller: “The back side of the building has started to bow out.”

Dispatcher: “And that’s happening right now in front of you?”

Caller: “It is, yep.”

Dispatcher: “Is there anyone in the building still?”

Caller: “There’s a lot of people in the building, yeah. We’re trying to get the word out, but I don’t know everyone who works here.”

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

After answering some questions from the dispatcher, the man was told to pull the fire alarm.

Caller: “It’s getting worse. We’re hearing cracks a little bit so we’re thinking everyone needs to get out.”

Dispatch: “Can you pull the fire alarm?”

Caller: “Yes we can.”

Luckily, the damage is only to the facade and not the structure itself.

Building managers told FOX 12 they hope to have it back open in a few days, but first scaffolding has to be put up to protect people walking below, just as a precaution in case more of the facade gives way, a process that started Wednesday afternoon.

MORE: Portland Fire & Rescue: 'We don't have to worry about the building collapsing'

Earlier in the morning people were able to go inside and get things they left behind in those first chaotic moments of the evacuation.

One of the most difficult parts of the situation was for workers at a daycare center inside the building.

KinderCare serves 80 kids in the building, ranging in age from babies to Pre-K, and teachers in the facility went into evacuation mode, checking names with faces to make sure all of the children were accounted for before managers went back in to do another sweep just to be sure.

They would normally evacuate to the parking lot, but since that wasn’t safe Tuesday, they went to their backup location at the Hotel Madera.

WATCH: RAW VIDEO: Debris falling from evacuated building in downtown Portland

Region director of KinderCare Michelle Mazzulo said for her staff members it was all about staying focused and keeping the kids calm.

“The teachers in the classroom right close to where it happened heard a noise, and then immediately after the fire alarm had gone on,” she explained. “You practice and everyone does great in practice, but when the real thing happens it’s about keeping their calm and making sure all the children are accounted for. They got over to the hotel and started engaging them in activities and really those kids thought it was nothing more than a field trip.”

MORE: Mother: KinderCare staff calm, had plan when evacuating kids from downtown Portland building

Staff members were making calls until 9 p.m. working to place about 60 kids and 20 teachers in other KinderCare locations for the rest of the week.

While all of those arrangements have now been made, they don’t know yet when they can be back in the facility in the Fifth Avenue building. And the big question that still has no answer is why the building started to crack in the first place.

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