Historic theater partially collapses in 3-alarm fire in NE Portland

Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 8:42 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Firefighters battled a three-alarm fire at the Roseway Theater in northeast Portland on Saturday morning.

Portland Fire & Rescue said just before 6 a.m. Saturday, firefighters responded to the theater at Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Northeast 72nd Avenue. It was initially called as a two-alarm response but later upgraded to three-alarm. The first arriving firefighters saw flames coming through the roof. They forced entry and began searching for fire, but the floor began to collapse. This forced crews to move outside and fight the fire from the exterior.

Crews with PGE and NW Natural were called in to make sure utilities affected by the fire were safe. City crews responded to deal with water runoff. More than 80 firefighters responded.

PF&R said there are no injuries.

The fire is under control, but firefighters are continuing to cool hot spots. Fire investigators must wait for the scene to stabilize before they go inside in search of a cause. It is likely the investigation will take several days.

John Pallagra came to watch the large effort to extinguish the fire.

“I came up here at (7 a.m.) and there were probably seven or eight firetrucks,” he said. “The smoke was just billowing up in the sky. I mean you can see it for a long ways away.”

The Roseway Theater has brought the community many memories.

“The Roseway Theater is a really special place to me and my son,” Randall Hobson said. “We’ve come here many times.”

Now, neighbors are devastated.

“It’s really, really sad because it’s a neighborhood place that so many people have gone to over the years,” Hobson said.

PF&R said, by the looks of it, they believe it’s a total loss. But neighbors hope it can be salvaged.

“It’s a tragedy,” Hobson said. “I hope they can rebuild, but it looks like it’s pretty devastatingly damaged.”

The Roseway Theater opened in 1925 and upgraded to digital projection a few years ago. It’s independently owned.

PF&R asks the public to remain vigilant as this weekend’s weather poses a significant risk for fires to start and spread quickly.