From a massive fire at a Plaid Pantry, to a fiery explosion on a restaurant patio, neighbors and workers in north Portland say someone is shooting fireworks at them on purpose.
Portland Fire and Rescue launched a criminal investigation Tuesday night after a fire destroyed the convenience store located at North Rosa Parks Way and Greeley Avenue.
Firefighters said initial reports indicated someone threw or fired a firework into the store.
“I think somebody thought they were doing some kind of practical joke, or thought it would be funny,” Plaid Pantry President Jonathan Polonsky said. “The biggest thing is everybody is safe, there's nothing in the store that can’t be replaced.”
TriMet confirmed a woman reported being struck by a firework Tuesday night while waiting for a bus in the 8700 North Lombard Street. That’s less than four miles from the Plaid Pantry store.
Employees at The Garrison Tap Room and 87th and Meatballs nearby said the firework then landed on an outdoor patio before spreading inside 87th and Meatballs’ restaurant.
“Me and my coworker were both in the back, we just heard a loud bang, turned around and we see lots of sparks flying up here, lot of loud popping,” 87th and Meatballs Manager Quintin Scalfaro said. “We initially thought it was something much worse than fireworks, and ducked for cover.”
The Garrison Tap Room employee Michael Norwood was mixing drinks when he saw the patio light up just a few feet away.
“It was very scary, very startling,” Norwood said. “It’s one of the ones that has like a mortar and an initial blast, and then it shoots out more and spreads the area where they hit.”
Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt in either incident, but Norwood said at least two customers were hit by the sparks on the patio.
“There was a gentleman outside with his wife, just having dinner,” Norwood said. “One of them hit him right on the collarbone–shirt caught fire–he just took his shirt off, but his wife was trying to put the fire out, and burned her hand.”
Firefighters have not said whether investigators believe the two incidents could be related.
“I’m pretty sure it was the same people,” Norwood said.
Another woman said a firework struck her bus near the Lombard Transit Center Tuesday night.
“I heard like a bunch of pops against the window, my first thought was, ‘oh it’s gunfire,’ and I opened my eyes and looked out the window, and it was fireworks,” Megan McNulty said, adding that the incident frightened several passengers.
In each incident, witnesses said it appeared the fireworks were being shot from a car passing by. Fire investigators have not said if they have identified suspects in the cases.
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