Demolition begins on fire ravaged Portland church

Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 4:57 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The historic Korean Church in downtown Portland will soon be nothing more than a memory after it was set on fire on Tuesday.

It was a slow and steady process for crews on Friday as they began to demolish the church. Dozens of people gathered to watch the building come down piece by piece.

“It’s pretty remarkable to see actually the dismantling of it,” says Tom Pickell, who used to live in the area.

Portland Fire & Rescue say they had a drone go inside the building to take 3D images to see what it looked like inside. It was those images that confirmed the building was unsafe and needed to come down.

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“What was really interesting was how the main tower flexed. They pushed it pretty hard and it’s a pretty big machine and so it flexed before it fell, they really had to work hard. Whoever is operating that crane really has an unbelievable skill set to see how he will maneuver get stuff to where he needed and then push in the right direction. It’s a horrible thing to have happen but to see them take it down is pretty impressive,” says Hank Schottland.

Police say 25-year-old Cameron Storer, who identifies as Nicolette Fait, confessed to starting the fire on Tuesday. Fait now faces charges of burglary and arson.

But the Architectural Heritage Center is hoping to save pieces of the church, like the cornerstone, stained glass windows and the weathervane for their collection, but crews told him there are no promises.

“They’re not very confident that those will be salvageable once the building gets knocked over,” says Val Ballestrem of Architectural Heritage Center. “Having a piece from the building really enforces our ability to tell that story.”