Massive fire destroys warehouse underneath Fremont Bridge - KPTV - FOX 12

Massive fire destroys warehouse underneath Fremont Bridge

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Charred remains are all that is left of a warehouse that once stretched about two city blocks under the Fremont Bridge on the east side of the Willamette River.

Portland Fire and Rescue crews were still shooting water on the hot spots midday Monday after battling the frightening scene since late Sunday night.

It would take 80 firefighters, five fire chiefs and 20 pieces of equipment including trucks, engines and fire boats to get the fire on the waterfront under control.

The fire so massive that it created its own tornado-like weather pattern.

Firefighters arrived around 10 p.m. Sunday to find the warehouse owned by Metro Movers fully engulfed in flames. The good news was that the building management told them no one was inside.

Crews said it looked like the fire started on the exterior but spread quickly. Firefighters say that because the largely wooden structure is built on a pier over the Willamette there was lots of room for flames to travel.

The warehouse held boats and cars and firefighters were able to save some but not all. Aerial views show that the building is a total loss.

Nate Ashbaugh and Jack Heckman work across the street from the burning warehouse and said their workplace, Northwest Copper Works, was also damaged.

“It looks like the sign melted, the windows are broken,” Heckman said of the damage. “We are really lucky the building didn't catch fire.”

"The building is half melted inside. It is almost unworkable and it smells incredibly bad inside,” Ashbaugh added. “Water and smoke are in all the fabric.”

Firefighters attacked the fire from the ground and the river, never entering the structure. PF&R officials had pre-determined the building as unsafe to enter into during a fire.

MORE: Portland firefighters use heat-sensitive cameras to help put out massive fires 

A team of investigators is still trying to figure out what sparked the fire. Just after 5 p.m. Monday, investigators reported that they thought the fire started below the warehouse in the pilings that supported the structure.

The investigators noted that there have been reports of activity in that area, including warming and cooking fires. They are asking anyone with information on the activity in the area Sunday or in the days leading up to the fire to contact the Tip Line at 503-823-4636.

The Oregon Department of Transportation sent out engineers overnight and again Monday morning to make sure the Fremont Bridge was not structurally damaged.

At one point the bridge was closed to traffic due to the heavy smoke in the air.

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