It's believed that construction equipment caused the gas leak. One building in the popular shopping district was reduced to rubble and the exterior of one side of another building had been ripped off, its windows blown out.
Three firefighters, two police officers, and three civilians were injured in the blast when a gas leak ignited, but no one was killed, thanks to quick-thinking first responders who pulled a fire alarm and emptied the building just in time.
Plumes of smoke could be seen from many places in the city. Three firefighters, two police officers and three civilians were injured. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
City officials said a catastrophe was averted by speedy work from firefighters and police who cleared the area of people before the blast.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said firefighters did a great job getting people out of harm's way following the gas leak.
"That man saved the lives of a lot of people today and a lot of firefighters", Chief Myers said, according to the Associated Press.
St. John and other firefighters also chose to don protective equipment before the blast because something "just didn't feel right", the fire chief said.
"There's a lot of impact on people's lives and we're going to need the community to come together to help those folks", he said. "If it wasn't for the efforts of a few firefighters today, and a very special leader in our organization who made some very serious and very important decisions, I'm afraid we'd be having a different discussion". "He showed good judgment".
Houston Rockets optimistic about future as new season starts
Only one team can win, though, which is why I felt compelled to put together this list of "bold" predictions for the contest. But this young team is energized, refreshed and will need all the power they can as they take on the Houston Rockets.
The child had been evacuated from his day care center just before the blast, but he heard the explosion and was scared, she said. "They did not want to leave their post", Sergeant Simpson said. They also can get shelter help information.
The American Red Cross has set up an emergency reception center at Beth Israel on Northwest 19th Avenue and Flanders Street for people displaced by the natural gas explosion that rocked the nearby Northwest Portland shopping district.
Businesses several blocks away reported that their doors flew open from the force of the blast, and people as far as 11 streets away reported feeling rattled. The intersections near the blast site were still closed Thursday.
About 20 minutes later, a "significant explosion" happened from inside the building at about 9:39 a.m., according to Chatman.
Nicknamed "Trendy Third", the area is packed with street-level boutique shops and restaurants, with luxury apartments above.
The incident began when a contractor hit a gas line of utility company NW Natural, prompting an evacuation of the building. The ignition source has yet to be determined. Authorities and utility workers responded in 15 minutes and evacuated the building, NW Natural CEO David Anderson said at a news conference.
Officials now say eight people were injured in a powerful gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district.
An employee at a nearby kitchen accessories store said he was in the washroom when he felt a huge explosion and emerged to find thick smoke and haze.