The Old Portland Korean Church, a historic church in Portland, was ravaged by fire on January 4th, leading to concerns of massive structural collapse. Portland Fire & Rescue rushed to the scene after receiving a call regarding the fire around 5:30 p.m. on January 3. The construction of the three-story, 3,000-square-foot wooden church was completed in 1905. The church was already declared unsafe in 2020 because of a previous fire occurrence that caused severe damage to its floor. The church was regularly assessed for fire safety with the last inspection being done last week. The fire department announced that when the fire incident took place, the church was empty and “not actively in use.” The incident is currently being investigated by the fire department.
Fox News reports:
The cause of a three-alarm fire that ravaged a Portland historic church overnight, sparking concerns of a major infrastructure collapse, remains under investigation as of Wednesday.
Portland Fire & Rescue was called to the Old Portland Korean Church, at the intersection of Southwest 10th and Southwest Clay Street, around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. There were reports that fire was pushing out of a church and that the flames were impinging up against the home to the east of the building.
As of Wednesday morning, water was still being poured onto the structure, though the blaze has since been deemed contained. Initially, 85 firefighters were at the scene, though the response has been downgraded to two engines and two trucks that have been operating overnight.
There is still major concern of a structural collapse of a 65-foot-tall exterior wall of the church that could take out the aerial power source for the area if it comes down, according to Portland Fire’s Public Information Officer Rick Graves, who spoke to Fox News Digital by phone Wednesday morning.
The three-story wooden, 3,000-square foot church, completed in 1905, had already been deemed unsafe in September 2020 due to previous fire activity that left major damage to the floor.
All lower-level entry points, including doors and windows, were boarded up to prevent unwanted entry, and the church was regularly checked by both the owner and a fire safety specialist, Graves said. The last inspection happened on Friday.
The church “was currently unoccupied and not actively in use” when the fire broke out, the department said.
“It being investigated. Any investigation by the fire investigative unit has a criminal element to it, but there’s no predetermined suspicion of criminal activity, but doesn’t mean there isn’t any,” Graves said.
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