Complaints filed against company before NE Portland scrap-yard fire, records show

Tires burn at a Northeast Portland scrap yard Monday. The smoke from the fire forced thousands of people to evacuate because of the poor air quality. (Photo: Chopper 2/KATU)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Both the state and city had previous complaints about the Northeast Portland scrap-yard where a fire broke out Monday, damaging nearby buildings and forcing people to evacuate their homes.

READ MORE: Evacuation order lifted for NE Portland residents affected by scrap-yard fire

One of the complaints was filed as recently as January with the city’s Bureau of Development Services.

Neither that complaint, nor another filed with the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) led to any sanctions against the business.

Footage of the fire shows a huge pile of used tires in flames, sending a plume of black smoke over Portland.

Oregon's DEQ said their only complaint about the business was in 2015, and that complaint was passed along to the City of Portland for investigation.

DEQ also released a statement saying that the business owners "do not have a DEQ solid waste permit,” and "we're still investigating about whether they would need a waste tire permit."

Paul Seidel with DEQ says they'll soon oversee cleanup at the site.

“There will be some base profiling and solid waste disposal … the next steps for the site. And then looking forward to the cleanup, we'll be working with the owner on next steps which may involve some soil sampling and impacts to storm water,” said Seidel.

Meanwhile, the City's Bureau of Development Services says the only complaint it had about operations at the site came January 29, 2018. The concerns stemmed from the height of the crushed cars stacked up at the back of the property – both from the danger and that they were an eyesore for neighbors.

The city said that since Northwest Metals had a DMV license for scrapping cars and because the property is zoned for that kind of work, there wasn't any reason to investigate that complaint any further.

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