Crews work throughout night to put out N Portland fire

The smoke was visible for miles around

Crews worked until early Sunday morning to put out all the burning material from the night before, Aug. 6, 2017. (Portland Fire&Rescue)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A fire in North Portland’s industrial district burned until late Saturday after a plume of smoke was visible for miles started around 5:30 p.m.

Smoke from a fire in N Portland on August 5, 2017. (Courtesy of Dawn Sellers)
Smoke from a fire in N Portland on August 5, 2017. (Courtesy of Dawn Sellers)

The fire started in a scrap metal pile on the Schnitzer Steel property on N Burgard Road around 5:30 p.m.

“It’s a huge pile, I’m want to guess 600 feet in diameter plus probably 100 feet tall,” Portland Fire battalion chief Jim Kirkendall said.

Kirkendall said 33 trucks and other pieces of equipment were called to the scene along with 110 firefighters. He said the fire is particularly difficult to fight because it’s scrap metal with grease and oil.

“The big problem is going to be that it’s going to take a long time to dig out this scrap metal,” Kirkendall said.

Officials said the fire was under control by 8 p.m., however, crews stayed until 4:15 a.m. to fully put out the burning material.

Bystanders who saw the smoke expressed concern for the firefighters, who were working in nearly 90-degree heat.

“I feel for the guys who are going to be working here in the heat, and putting out those flames,” Jamie Lawson said.

Kirkendall said a rehab unit brings fresh water and food to the crews, and they try to switch people out more often because of the heat.

“We are having to do it piece by piece,” he said. “Luckily the crane operators … are pulling that pile apart.”