Neighbor of man killed in N. Portland explosion: "I cried this m - KPTV - FOX 12

Neighbor of man killed in N. Portland explosion: "I cried this morning when I found out he died"

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The scene of Monday's home explosion on North Kerby Avenue in Portland. The scene of Monday's home explosion on North Kerby Avenue in Portland.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Two people have now died after a massive explosion at a north Portland home Monday afternoon.

One person was rushed to the hospital immediately from the scene, but did not survive. He has since been identified as 42-year-old Matthew McCrann.

The body of a second victim was found in the rubble later Monday. That person has not yet been identified.

“I cried this morning when I found out he died,” neighbor Mike Cook said of McCrann. “Because that man should have never went that way.”

Cook said he was just starting to get to know McCrann, with whom he shared a back alley. Cook told FOX 12 after the explosion, McCrann ended up in his backyard before he was rushed to the hospital.

“All I could get out of him was, ‘I was putting clothes in my dryer, and I never use my dryer,’” Cook recalled.  “He was so sorry, he said, ‘I really messed up, I’m sorry. What about the contractor?’ He was more worried about that contractor than he was about himself.”

Cook said McCrann was having some work done on the house. Investigators have not officially said the connection the second victim had to the property. 

It seems everyone in the neighborhood felt the blast, which leveled one home and badly damaged others.

“My house shook, everything fell off my wall, my TV fell back,” said neighbor Andre Thomas.

Thomas lives four doors down. His home is OK, but he was one of many who were evacuated as firefighters battled the flames.

“We couldn’t go back in until the smoke got put down, the fire got put out,” Thomas said. “The firefighters were worried it was going to spread to more houses.”

Fire crews did call a second alarm as they battled not only a quickly-moving fire, but also downed power lines, a damaged natural gas line, and a nearly 90-degree afternoon.

“My whole house shook for a moment and I couldn’t figure out what was going on,” said neighbor Fritz Coch.

At his home two blocks away, Coch said it felt like an earthquake.

Investigators poured over the rubble Tuesday, sifting through wood and debris – even using a drone to get a better perspective.

The force of the blast sent shards of glass across the street into Peninsula Park.

“My neighbor was with her kids playing in the park and she just happened to be looking in this area and she just saw the whole thing go up like immediately, just an explosion,” Coch added.

The cause of the blast is still under investigation.

NW Natural released a statement saying, in part, “On behalf of everyone at NW Natural, we send our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the people who perished in this tragedy. Our thanks go out to the many firefighters who responded to this incident. At this point, we do not know if natural gas was involved, but we are working with Portland Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives to support their investigation. They are still searching the property.”

According to the utility company, an underground survey was done within a two-block radius of the home in search of any gas lines that may have been leaking. None were found. The company also said nobody called to report the smell of natural gas either before or after the explosion.

“His ideal in life was he was going to give back to mankind,” Cook said of McCrann. 

The name of the second person who died may be released Wednesday, according to investigators.

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