‘No structural damage’ to 5th Avenue Building

Fifth Avenue Building and area surrounding evacuated

The cracked and buckling facade of a building is visible after its' occupants were evacuated in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 66-year-old, 10-story tall building in the heart of downtown Portland was evacuated late Tuesday morning after a large crack in the side was discovered.

Emergency crews rushed to the 5th Avenue Building at 1400 SW 5th Avenue around 11:30 a.m. after witnesses said they saw debris falling. A large crack in the siding on a middle-floor was discovered, and crews began evaluating the threat of a collapse.

An inspector checks the bulge at the now-evacuated 5th Avenue Building in Portland, April 11, 2017 (KOIN)

Within 10 minutes, everyone in the building was evacuated, officials said.

It’s unclear how long the building has had a crack in it.

Officials with 3 different bureaus assess the situation at the 5th Avenue Building in Portland, April 11, 2017 (KOIN)
Officials with 3 different bureaus assess the situation at the 5th Avenue Building in Portland, April 11, 2017 (KOIN)

At an afternoon press conference, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman revealed there is no structural damage to the building, adding that there is no imminent risk of collapse. However, scaffolding will be put up around the siding that is bulging and weak.

Battalion Chief Andy Ponce told reporters emergency responders and 3 city inspectors checked out the building and found no structural damage.

Melvin Mark Companies, which owns the building, released a statement:

“As has been reported, before noon today, unexpected damage at Fifth Avenue Building necessitated immediate evacuation of our property located at 1400 SW Fifth Avenue. In addition to emergency responders, our structural engineers are onsite now to assess the building, and determine the extent and impact of the damage. We’re monitoring the process with them, and we are focused on the timing of reentry to the building for tenants.

We thank our tenants for their swift and orderly exit from the property. Tenant safety is our highest priority, and we are grateful that everyone was able to evacuate quickly and allow first responders in to do their job.

More information will be provided as updates are available.”

Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he was very proud of everyone who responded. He said the city doesn’t have a plan to conduct its own investigation into the building. However, he said the building’s owners will need to bring in their own engineers.

“We want to see their reports,” Saltzman said.

Witnesses gathered near the damaged building on SW 5th Ave, April 11 2017. (KOIN)
Witnesses gathered near the damaged building on SW 5th Ave, April 11 2017. (KOIN)

Saltzman said people with a connection to the building will be allowed to go in and get their belongings, but it’s not clear when they will be allowed back in to stay.

PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera said TriMet service resumed and traffic was back to normal on all downtown Portland streets.

Both eBay and Oregon Health & Science University have offices in the building, which was built in 1951. A 24 Hour Fitness that’s connected to the building was evacuated. Children and workers at a KinderCare daycare on the bottom floor of the building were also evacuated due to the incident.

KinderCare provided KOIN 6 News with the following statement:

“As you know, an office building in downtown Portland was evacuated due to concerns about potential structural damage. One of our KinderCare centers is located in that building. Thankfully, every child and teacher from our center is safe. Our teachers are prepared for emergency situations and were able to safely and calmly evacuate every child from our center to our designated evacuation area at a nearby business. They’re also calling parents now and parents are picking up their children.

At this point we don’t yet know if our center will be open tomorrow. We’re evaluating the situation and our options for back-up care at our other centers. We’ll let parents know what our plan is for tomorrow as we learn more.”