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Published: Sat, October 22, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

3 firefighters hurt in gas blast are recovering


When first-responders first pulled up, the gas was so thick the firefighters could see waves in the air, St. John said.

The blast shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in a popular shopping district injured eight people and ignited a fire that sent a plume of smoke over the heart of the city.

"That man saved the lives of a lot of people today and a lot of firefighters", Chief Myers said, according to the Associated Press.

Melissa Moore, a spokeswoman for NW Natural, said gas has been shut off for about 115 customers in the area.

The blast occurred in a neighborhood that has condos as well as coffee shops, restaurants and other stores.

People reported smelling gas as they were evacuated and later felt the explosion.

Construction workers nicked a three-quarter-inch natural gas line outside the building and gas collected inside.

Fire Lt. Rich Chatman said none of the injuries are life-threatening.

Three firefighters, two police officers and three civilians were hurt, and one of the firefighters underwent hours of surgery for a broken leg, Portland Fire Chief Mike Myers said at an afternoon news conference.

Crews from NW Natural Gas and Portland Fire & Rescue responded to the report of the natural gas leak and made a decision to evacuate the building and other buildings in the area.

As he evacuated, Scott Bergler says, he saw a firefighter on the ground who had been knocked flat by the blast.

Utility officials say the explosion happened after a construction crew hit a gas line. Two firefighters and two civilians were injured.

Kimberly Johnson, the COO of Dosha Salon Spa, told KOIN that the salon was evacuated before the explosion happened, and all of her employees were safe. St. John was one of the firefighters injured in the explosion. One building in the popular shopping district was reduced to rubble and the exterior of one side of another building had been ripped off, its windows blown out.

Three firefighters, three civilians and two police officers were injured in two simultaneous natural gas explosions that completely destroyed a building at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street in Portland Wednesday morning.

NW Natural crews completed leak surveys in a two-block radius of the blast and continued to monitor infrastructure while coordinating with the Portland Fire Department and the Red Cross. The situation was in flux and authorities were still gathering information about the blast, said Lt.

Naharaja, who lives on the fourth floor of an apartment building near Northwest Lovejoy Street and 25th Avenue, peered out his window and saw smoke that he mistook for morning fog. Authorities and utility workers responded in 15 minutes and evacuated the building, NW Natural said in its statement.

The building that suffered the most damage is a multiple-story structure.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A firefighter who's being hailed as a hero for evacuating a building before a powerful gas explosion in a Portland shopping district said Thursday he was tossed up to 20 feet by the blast.

A firefighter battles a blaze after a gas explosion in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. The extent of the injuries was not clear. "Huge credit to the Portland Fire Bureau for getting on scene, sizing it up and getting people out of the way".

A plume of smoke hung over the neighborhood.

"I was just in my apartment and I just suddenly heard a big boom and then I felt my apartment complex shake and suddenly all the lights, electricity and everything, went out", resident Courtney Vasques said.

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