Asbestos cleanup starts after warehouse fire

The N River Road building was completely destroyed

Fire destroyed a North Portland warehouse, May 14 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a fire destroyed a North Portland warehouse over Sunday night, investigators are working to clean up asbestos in the debris.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are working to get rid of the asbestos-containing debris. It may have spread as far as 2 miles on each side of the Willamette River.

Survey crews did find asbestos in some areas of North Portland and they will continue to survey the area on Thursday.

More about asbestos 

Officials are telling people to stay away from the debris and not try to clean it up themselves, including by sweeping or vacuuming debris.

Debris with asbestos in it will look like ash or paper and easily crumbles into dust. Asbestos fibers are released when it crumbles, which can cause diseases if it’s inhaled.

“Because it’s wind blown and ashen, if you touch it, it will crumble into dust immediately, which could increase your exposure to the asbestos,” DEQ project manager Keith Johnson said.

A photo of asbestos-containing debris from the N Portland warehouse fire. (Courtesy of Oregon DEQ)
A photo of asbestos-containing debris from the N Portland warehouse fire. (Courtesy of Oregon DEQ)

A licensed asbestos remover will remove the debris and and the DEQ will be monitoring the air. So far, monitoring has not found elevated levels of asbestos particles in North Portland neighborhoods, just in the warehouse.

If you find any of this debris please call 503.229.5815 and leave a message:
• Describe what the debris looks like
• The address where the debris is
• Describe where the debris is on your property
• Your name
• Your phone number

Officials also said to avoid tracking the debris inside, take off shoes inside, wipe pet’s feet and wash kids’ hands often.