Portland, Ore. –A massive fire broke out in a downtown Portland apartment building located at the intersection of Southwest 14th Avenue and Taylor Street on Tuesday. The incident prompted swift response from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), who shared images on social media showing residents being evacuated from upper-story windows using ladders just before 11 a.m.

According to PF&R, they received the first report of the fire at 10:43 a.m., with thick smoke billowing from multiple upper windows of the 5-story building. Flames were visible on the roof, and firefighters utilized ladder trucks to spray water from above. The plume of smoke could be seen throughout downtown, leading to poor visibility that resulted in the closure of the adjacent stretch of Interstate 405 for about two hours. The street outside the building was also shut down, and local street closures were expected to continue for several hours.

PF&R Public Information Officer Rick Graves stated, “We’ll be here all night,” indicating the ongoing efforts to control the blaze. Firefighters faced challenges due to the building’s unreinforced masonry structure, which made it difficult to gain access and posed concerns about potential structural collapse.

During the incident, one firefighter sustained a minor injury when a window shattered and a piece of glass struck his forehead. Another firefighter was taken to the hospital due to elevated blood pressure and remained under observation. Portland General Electric cut off power to the area, affecting thousands of customers initially, though the number decreased later in the day.

Residents who managed to escape the building shared their experiences with KGW reporters. Damian Warren, one of the building’s residents, recounted waking up to smoke in his apartment and evacuating just as the fire crews arrived. Sentierra Forbes, another resident, described fleeing through the fire escape but sadly had to leave behind two cats. Both residents expressed frustration with the building’s conditions and the lack of response to their previous complaints.

The building, constructed in 1910, raised concerns about its vulnerability to fires due to its age. The Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) confirmed receiving complaints from residents and conducting an inspection the day before the fire. The inspection revealed multiple violations of the city’s property maintenance code, which had not been adequately addressed by the property owner. BDS levied fines that were paid, but some violations remained unaddressed, including issues with fire safety equipment.

City records indicate that the century-old building was sold in 2004 for $395,000 and had a market value of approximately $6 million. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.