Red Cross shelter nears capacity as Northeast Portland fire evacuations expand

Thick smoke can be seen burning from scrap yard fire in North Portland on Monday, March 12, 2018. (KATU Photo)

Updated at 6:52 a.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Red Cross emergency shelter established to help those displaced by the scrap yard fire in Northeast Portland is nearing capacity Tuesday morning.

Many people were still forced to evacuate their homes Tuesday due to the poor air quality in the neighborhood.

RELATED | Scrap Yard Fire: Air quality could be affected for days, health officials say

Monday, a massive fire near Northeast 75th Avenue and Killingsworth destroyed a duplex and two small homes.

The Red Cross expected the shelter at the Department of Community Justice at 1415 SE 122nd Ave. to hold 250 people. But, Tuesday morning, as they reached 141 evacuees, they realized they were nearing capacity.

There are also five dogs and 10 cats at the shelter.

Many households were issued a notice of evacuation around 10 p.m. Monday night. The mandatory evacuation zone stretched between Northeast 60th Avenue to Northeast 76th Avenue and from Northeast Columbia Boulevard to Northeast Alberta Street.

However, at a news briefing Tuesday morning, emergency officials announced it was safe for residents between Northeast 60th Avenue and Northeast 72nd Avenue to return home. The EPA air quality tests proved this area is safe.

Officials said they told about 4,000 people to leave their homes.

The main concern is the air quality and the toxic chemicals released in the air.

“I had to go run to my cousins’ house to see if they were alright and coming back I had to like – I couldn’t breathe and I was feeling woozy. I didn’t feel safe,” said Abdikadir Mohamed who lives in the Cully Neighborhood.

“Well I’m glad they got the fire put out and everything. It’s just the air quality now, so hopefully it will pass sooner or later,” said Kiana, who has lived in the area for the past 15 years.

The public can sign up for alerts at PublicAlerts.org. Anyone who needs shelter assistance can call 211 and anyone who needs transportation assistance can call 503-823-2323.

READ MORE | Homes destroyed, pets perish in massive NE Portland scrap-yard fire

WATCH the full 6:30 a.m. news briefing from emergency officials on Tuesday:


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