Fire breaks out in basement of old NW Portland bar

Unsafe building conditions forced fire crews to withdraw

A fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that formerly housed the popular dive bar and music venue, Slabtown. (KOIN)
A fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that formerly housed the popular dive bar and music venue, Slabtown. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that formerly housed the popular dive bar and music venue, Slabtown.

Initial reports of smoke coming from a dumpster around NW 16th Avenue and NW Northrup Street came in around 7:30 p.m., Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Tyler said.

A fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that formerly housed the popular dive bar and music venue, Slabtown. (KOIN)
A fire broke out Tuesday night in an abandoned building that formerly housed the popular dive bar and music venue, Slabtown. (KOIN)

When firefighters arrived, they determined the smoke was actually coming from the basement of what used to be Slabtown Bar. It was upgraded to a commercial fire and several more crews rushed to the scene.

As they began to fight the fire, crews discovered holes they were previously unaware of in the basement of the abandoned building. That discovery, combined with knowledge of the building’s unstable structure, forced crews to retreat.

“For us it’s unsafe,” Lt. Tyler explained. “There’s parts of the structure that, in fire conditions, would be unsafe for us as firefighters to be working in.”

It was upgraded to a 2nd-alarm fire as crews worked to devise a new plan of attack.

Lt. Tyler said all firefighters taken out of the building were accounted for.

Fire hoses were hooked up to the building’s sprinkler system to help put out the flames. The fire was under control by 8:50 p.m.

As of 10:15 p.m., firefighters were still working to put out hot spots in the basement.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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