Portland, OR

Thursday in Portland: One person seriously injured after fire breaks out in makeshift tunnels under Steel Bridge onramp

Emily Scarvie

Photo by(Portland Fire & Rescue)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, March 9 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. One person seriously injured after fire breaks out in improvised tunnels under Steel Bridge onramp

One person was seriously injured after a fire broke out in makeshift tunnels under the east-bound onramp to the Steel Bridge on Wednesday. Firefighters responded around 3:30 p.m. on reports of “smoke in the area.” When they arrived, they found smoke “pushing out of cracks of a non-load-bearing cinderblock wall under the bridge.” The crew smashed holes in the wall, revealing a blaze hidden from view.

Firefighters rescued one person from inside the wall and extinguished the flames. The victim is in serious condition at a local hospital, suffering from smoke inhalation and burns, according to Portland Fire & Rescue.

When looking for more victims, crews discovered that people had dug tunnels under the bridge's onramp to carve out living spaces inside the walls. Oregon Department of Transportation engineers are now examining the onramp for possible structural damage.

2. Local non-profits advocate for culturally-specific severe weather shelters

On Wednesday, Portland emergency management officials met with non-profit leaders to discusses ways to better serve refugees and non-English speakers in emergency shelters. Rosaline Jinedri Yunusa Vakkai was one of nearly two dozen non-profit leaders who shared their lived experiences and concerns regarding severe weather with officials. Yunusa Vakkai works with De Rose Community Bridge & Holistic Wellness, which serves refugees and undocumented people in Portland.

She said during Portland’s 2022 deadly heat wave, there were countless people in the communities she serves that had no air conditioning in their home. She said it’s important to implement cooling and warming shelters that cater to refugees or people who don’t speak English as their primary language.

Jonna Papaefthmou, Portland’s Chief Resilience Officer, said, “We will come out with a report that reflects the information we shared with the community, so they have it documented and also reflects that we’ve learned from the community, from their needs and requests.”

The city said it plans to host a similar event with more community leaders as summer approaches. The non-profit leaders said they hope the discussions turn into action.

3. 35 Texas dogs previously facing euthanasia headed to Beaverton for adoption event

Beaverton residents will have a chance to adopt an adorable pup this weekend as 35 dogs once on euthanasia lists in Texas get a chance to find their forever home. Texas nonprofit Animal Rescue Kingdom has been saving shelter dogs on kill lists in Texas for the last 20 years. The organization gets the pups up to date on procedures and shots before transferring them to adoption events in other states, where overcapacity is less of a burden.

The group’s next adoption event will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Beaverton PetSmart. Animal Rescue Kingdom founder and owner Carlos Davis said the PetFinder page should be up to date this week with the dogs that will be headed to Beaverton. Dogs that don’t find new homes in Beaverton will be available for adoption at a PetSmart in Bellingham, Washington on Sunday.

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