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Officials say air quality has improved near fire, most evacuated residents can go home

Heavy equipment will work to move debris at the Northeast Portland scrap yard fire on March 13, 2018. They're working now to discover the cause. KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah County emergency officials have reduced the evacuation area near the Northeast Portland scrap yard fire to the blocks between Northeast 72nd Avenue and Northeast 76th Avenue and between Northeast Killingsworth Street and Northeast Alberta Street.

The changes to the evacuation order were announced at a news briefing Tuesday morning.

WATCH the full news briefing:

Monday, around 10 p.m., officials had stretched the mandatory evacuation zone from Northeast 60th Avenue to Northeast 76th Avenue and from Northeast Columbia Boulevard to Northeast Alberta Street.

But after the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality tests showed improvements over night, most residents could return to their homes.

Portland Fire and Rescue says anyone who had windows or doors open while the fire was burning should throw away any food that was left uncovered. They’ll also want to thoroughly clean their homes to remove the odor and soot.

Anyone still in the evacuation area should continue to keep their windows and doors closed and consider not running air conditioning or heat.

Multnomah County has information online about how to clean after a fire.

The EPA is still not certain what carcinogens could be present in the smoke from the fire. So far, they’ve only been able to test for particles.

A county health official said anyone who inhaled smoke could have trouble breathing and coughing. They’re worried about chemicals in the air.

The EPA will continue to conduct tests Tuesday to hopefully get a better understanding of what the fire emitted.

The American Red Cross took in 141 people overnight and about 15 pets. The shelter will remain open as long as it’s necessary.

RELATED | Evacuees from scrap yard fire wait to return home

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