Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. —A powerful natural gas explosion rocked a busy Portland, Oregon, shopping district Wednesday, injuring eight people and igniting a fire that sent a huge plume of smoke over the heart of the city.

Three firefighters, two police officers and three civilians were hurt and one of the firefighters was in surgery Wednesday afternoon for a broken leg, authorities said. None of the injuries appeared life-threatening.

A building that housed a bagel shop and a beauty salon in the popular NW 23rd Street shopping district was reduced to rubble and its smoldering roof was splayed across the road.

The exterior of a building next door also was ripped off. Its windows were blown out, exposing the insides of what appeared to be high-end apartments, and debris was everywhere.



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

Melissa Moore, a spokeswoman for NW Natural, said the utility got a call before the blast saying a construction crew had hit a gas line. Utility and fire officials responded and determined the building should be evacuated.

Structural engineers were requested to assess the building’s integrity and neighbors were asked to shelter in place.

People in the neighborhood reported smelling gas as they were evacuated, and later felt the explosion.

KGW-TV aired live 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 among the occupants of the building.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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