‘Dangerous Building Reference’ Was Made for Southwest Portland Apartments Months Before the Fire

The May, a complex of apartments in Southwest Portland, experienced a 4-alarm fire on Tuesday, May 16,Β morning. According to the city of Portland’s official records, the apartment complex was flagged as a “dangerous building referral” in February.

Portland Fire & Rescue reported arriving at the scene at 10:43 a.m. near Southwest 14th Avenue and Taylor Street. After nearly an hour, PF&R upgraded the fire from a 3-alarm to a 4-alarm.

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The firefighters reported that Portland General Electric had shut off electricity to the area and that the blackout would likely linger for several more hours. According to reports, officials have begun relocating emergency vehicles from the site in anticipation of a building collapse.

PF&R is confident that the blaze began on the third floor. According to Public Information Officer Rick Graves, firefighters are taking defensive measures to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring structures.

According to officials, the initial apartment building was salvaged around 1:39 p.m. on Tuesday. Officials said the I-405 is open again while all exits near the fire are still closed soΒ firefighters can focus on putting out the blaze.

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The apartment structure located at 1410 SW Taylor St. in the Goose Hollow area was built in 1910, as documented by city records. SkyNat Property Management calls The May a “vintage building that offers several custom floor plans.” Its value in today’s market is close to $6 million.

The city has designated it as an unreinforced masonry building, making it more vulnerable to collapse after an earthquake. Permits from the city date back to 2003 for the facility as well. An apartment resident reported in October 2007 that a wall had collapsed and obstructed the flat’s only working fire exit.

'Dangerous Building Reference' Was Made for Southwest Portland Apartments Months Before the Fire

However, a complaint concerning the building was filed in December 2022, detailing serious leaks, exposed electrical wiring, and a lack of smoke, gas, and carbon monoxide detectors. There have been open inspections, violation administrative reviews, and a referral for a potentially hazardous building since February of this year.

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The building had been examined by city code enforcement the day before the blaze to check on the status of several safety violations and determined to have been mostly resolved.

In 1990, Oregon became the first state to mandate sprinklers in multi-family dwellings with 16 or more units in structures taller than two floors. All apartment buildings must be sprinkled under theΒ 2004 amendment. Sprinkler systems should be considered for each structure renovation.

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Louis Ebert

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