Some shops re-open near blast site, but business lags

NW 23rd Avenue is open for business, except between Flanders and Hoyt Street

Kitchen Kaboodle employees clean up after a nearby gas explosion, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)
Kitchen Kaboodle employees clean up after a nearby gas explosion, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Owners of more than a dozen businesses in the vicinity of NW 23rd Avenue are still cleaning up after Wednesday’s gas explosion.

Many are still waiting to see the extent of the damages. Some business owners still haven’t been allowed back into their shops. Authorities said some of the businesses are being looked at as part of the investigation, and others have been deemed structurally unsafe.

Kitchen Kaboodle employees spent Thursday sweeping and vacuuming up pounds of glass from when windows shattered during the blast. Thankfully, there was little damage to merchandise.

But the owner of Ritual Adornments, a jewelry shop next to the demolished building, wasn’t as lucky. He said he saw lots of water and smoke damage inside his store when he was briefly allowed inside on Wednesday evening.

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An attorney whose office was upstairs said there was no time to grab anything when firefighters suddenly bolted in and yelled, “Get out. There’s a gas leak.”

“The firemen were so insistent we get out, I couldn’t even grab my laptop [with] lots of important information. There’s a quill I had on the wall I got when I argued a case before the Supreme Court, but I’m happy to be alive and that got all of us out,” he said.

Despite the damage and debris, almost all of the rest of NW 23rd Avenue is open for business, except between Flanders Street and Hoyt Street.

The owners of businesses that are back open say they’re struggling for the foot traffic that normally characterizes the district.

Hip Hound pet shop held a fundraiser for businesses affected by the blast, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)
Hip Hound pet shop held a fundraiser for businesses affected by the blast, October 20, 2016. (KOIN)

“We rely on people coming in and experiencing this area. It’s a lovely little nook of Portland,” Ari Ambrutis with Hip Hound pet shop said. “To have something so tragic, it’s just kind of a shock to all of us.”

Hip Hound hosted a fundraiser Thursday night to help the community of coffee shop owners, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs get back on their feet.

If you’d like to help, stop by businesses on NW 23rd Avenue for a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza, or anything to help stimulate the economy and minimize losses.