More than 100 displaced after fire tears through Portland apartment building

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:55 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Crews are investigating the cause of a devastating four-alarm fire at an apartment complex in downtown Portland on Tuesday that displaced more than 100 people.

Around 10:30 a.m., Portland Fire & Rescue crews responded to a fire at Southwest 14th and Southwest Taylor. There, crews found flames erupting from the third and fourth floors.

A former manager of the building, called The May, Brittney Hanset, said she has many friends still living there and rushed to the scene when she heard the news. What she saw, broke her heart.

Pure devastation,” she said, “I raised my daughter there.”

Hanset said she had managed the more than 100-year-old property for roughly five years before leaving in November.

“I know me, and many other people did what we could to keep it safe,” she said.

She set up a GoFundMe on behalf of the displaced residents.

“Seeing a lot of them today, seeing their homes today, it’s devastating,” said Hanset.

The fire brought 87 firefighters to the scene, some entered the building through windows, where crews say several rescues were made for people and pets.

Portland General Electric cut power to the area during the fire and a one block radius around the building was closed causing traffic to jam around the scene, as fire inspectors wondered whether the old building was structurally sound.

Jim Rush woke up to sirens which continued through much of the day while concerns for neighboring buildings and a potential collapse grew.

Fire crews say they kept a continual stream of water on the structure to make sure all potential hot spots were put out.

The Red Cross quickly came to help, bringing water, food, and other necessities. Another organization brought pizza to the displaced residents at a time PF&R calls, for some, their darkest hour.

The Red Cross also bussed several people from The May to the University of Portland campus where they organized temporary housing.

At least one firefighter had minor injuries, but crews say they’re confident they got everyone out of the building and no other injuries have been reported.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A city report obtained by FOX 12 showed several violations were found at The May during a Dec. 2022 inspection. Several violations were marked as corrected on Monday, just a day before the fire.