PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first 9-1-1 call was received at 2:29 p.m. on July 24, 2017.
The caller told emergency dispatchers that she and her husband were three houses to the south in the 6200 block of North Kerby Avenue when their window blew out.
“What do you mean a house exploded,” a dispatcher asked?
“A house exploded,” the woman replied. “There’s garbage all over the street.”
Over the next several minutes, emergency dispatchers would be flooded with more than 20 callers reporting the explosion. Officials at the Peninsula Park Community Center began a lock-in procedure. They were told, initially, by dispatchers that there had been a “gas explosion nearby.”
“Do not operate any electrical equipment, including light switches, okay. Because there could be gas in the air where you are as well,” dispatchers told an employee who called 9-1-1.
Dispatchers pressed 9-1-1 callers for information on what may have happened.
“Do you smell anything,” a dispatcher asked a caller. “I don’t smell anything,” she replied.
“Do you know what kind of explosion it was,” the dispatcher asked? “I have no idea….it was a boom,” the caller said.
At 2:44 p.m. a woman living in the 6100 block of North Commercial called emergency dispatchers and told them that she was out with a man who was “naked and bleeding.”
“How much of his body is burned,” the dispatcher asked. “Everything,” the caller replied.
“Everything,” the dispatcher asked in a surprise manner. “Head to toe,” the caller said.
The burn patient was later identified as Matthew McCrann, the owner of the home that exploded.
When firefighters got to him, they requested a trauma box and airway bag, according to records. He was rushed to the Oregon Burn Center but later died.
Another 9-1-1 caller told dispatchers that they believed there was “illegal drugs going on” inside the house prior to it exploding.
For several days investigators would search the rubble and look for clues of drug use.
On July 28, 2017, the Portland Fire Bureau held a press conference and confirmed that the explosion was a result of a production of butane hash oil.
They found about 200 cans of butane inside the basement. Officials have not said if they have identified the source of ignition. Butane oil is extremely flammable. Production of butane hash oil is against the law.
Investigators believe it was McCrann who was attempting to produce butane hash oil.
The explosion also killed Richard Cisler. His family told KOIN 6 News that he was at McCrann’s residence doing some re-modeling work.
Here is a timeline of the fire based on records obtained through the Bureau of Emergency Communications:
2:29 PM – First 9-1-1 call
2:30 PM – Firefighters dispatched
2:31 PM – First fire crews en-route
2:31 PM – 911 call reports glass from the explosion landed in park across the street
2:31 PM – Firefighters from nearby station report feeling the explosion
2:33 PM – 911 caller reporting house next to explosion home is now on fire
2:34 PM – First fire crews on scene
2:34 PM – Dispatchers call NW Natural
2:37 PM – Firefighters on scene report multiple explosions
2:39 PM – Second alarm called for by incident commanders
2:40 PM – Portland Police officer requesting Code 3 ambulance for a burn victim on North Commercial
2:43 PM – Power lines come down, emergency alert tones set out to crews on scene
2:44 PM – 911 caller reports a naked and bleeding man needs an ambulance
2:47 PM – Several cars on fire in the alleyway behind the house that exploded
2:52 PM – Neighbor reports house that exploded may have been involved with “illegal drugs”
2:53 PM – Crews decide to go “defensive” on the house that exploded
3:03 PM – Gas company meets with fire incident commanders
3:58 PM – Gas to area shut off