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The Latest: First responders praised for quick work

October 19, 2016 - 4:33 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Latest on a gas explosion in a Portland, Oregon, business district (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

Portland officials say a natural gas explosion that injured eight people could have been disastrous without the speedy work of first responders.

Eight people were injured in the explosion Wednesday morning in a busy shopping district.

Before the blast, firefighters and police officers quickly went to the site and cleared the area of people after a construction crew hit a gas line.

Mayor Charlie Hales said at a news conference that their work averted a catastrophe. Hales said the "excellent work by our first responders" saved the lives of many people.

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3:30 p.m.

A utility says a gas explosion that injured eight people in a Portland, Oregon, shopping district happened less than an hour after a construction crew called the utility to say it had hit a gas line.

NW Natural says in its timeline on the incident that it first got a call at 8:55 a.m. Wednesday and the blast happened at 9:38 a.m., after an evacuation was completed with Portland Fire & Rescue.

Three firefighters, three civilians and two police officers were hurt. None of the injuries are life-threatening.

NW Natural says it hasn't determined what caused the gas to ignite.

The blast destroyed a building and damaged others. The utility says all structures within 300 feet of the blast have been inspected.

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12:25 p.m.

Officials now say eight people were injured in a powerful gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district.

Three firefighters, three civilians and two police officers were hurt in the blast Wednesday that utility officials say happened after a construction crew hit a gas line.

Fire Lt. Rich Chatman said none of the injuries are life-threatening. He said two firefighters suffered broken legs and one of them will require surgery.

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12:05 p.m.

An employee at a kitchen accessories store located across the street from a gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district says he felt a huge blast and then saw smoke and haze.

As he evacuated, Scott Bergler says, he saw a firefighter on the ground who had been knocked flat by the blast.

Bergler says the firefighter seemed to be in shock and was crawling around and trying to stand.

He says 15 windows in the store were blown out Wednesday but none of the staff were injured.

Utility officials say the explosion happened after a construction crew hit a gas line.

People inside the building were evacuated before the blast occurred. Two firefighters and two civilians were injured.

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11:10 a.m.

Utility officials say a gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district occurred after a construction crew hit a line.

Melissa Moore, spokeswoman for NW Natural, said people inside the building were evacuated Wednesday before the explosion occurred.

Authorities say two firefighters and two civilians were injured in the powerful explosion.

KGW-TV aired footage showing rubble as well as firefighters spraying water onto a heavily damaged building.

The TV station said a bagel shop and a beauty salon were located in the building.

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10:55 a.m.

Authorities say two firefighters and two civilians were injured in a powerful explosion that shook a northwest Portland, Oregon, neighbourhood as utility workers were repairing a damaged gas line.

Lt. Rich Chatman, spokesman for Portland Fire and Rescue, said there were no fatalities in the Wednesday morning incident that he described as a "significant" explosion. An earlier tweet from the fire department said three firefighters were injured. Chatman said the situation was in flux and authorities were still gathering information about the blast.

The explosion was felt throughout the neighbourhood and smoke was seen billowing from a building.

Fire officials called in additional resources after the initial response to deal with the situation.

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10:20 a.m.

Fire officials in Oregon say in a tweet that "multiple firefighters" were injured in a blast that rocked a northwest Portland neighbourhood as utility workers were repairing a damaged gas line.

A plume of black smoke hung over northwest Portland after the Wednesday morning explosion.

A KGW-TV reporter at the scene says he saw an injured firefighter with blood on his face.

Live video aired by KGW-TV showed heavy damage to a multi-story building.

KGW-TV says it was told by utility officials that the explosion occurred as utility workers and firefighters responded to reports of a damaged gas line.

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10:07 a.m.

An explosion has rocked a neighbourhood in northwest Portland. A tweet by Portland Fire and Rescue called it a "gas incident."

It was not clear whether there were any injuries in the Wednesday morning blast, or the extent of damage.

Fire engines and police were at the scene.

A plume of smoke hung over the neighbourhood.

People living in the neighbourhood said buildings shook from the blast.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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