You can avert your gaze from the two obliterated buildings at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street. But you can’t escape the smoke.
Its sharp, acrid smell stings the nostrils. It’s one of the leftovers from Wednesday’s two massive natural gas explosions that destroyed those buildings, damaged others, and broke both legs of a firefighter seeking to save lives.
Two days later the visible smoke was gone. But Friday afternoon, the pungent odor lingered.
A weary Deborah Haynes stood outside her business, Blush Beauty Bar, across 23rd from the blast. “The soot is everywhere,” she said. “I smell like a chimney.”
Haynes and others whose buildings were damaged by Wednesday’s incident wondered what lay ahead, from questions about insurance, to making repairs, to replacing inventory. “It’s just beyond the scale of what we’re used to,” Hales said. “We’ve had individual businesses burned out by fire. We’ve never had all that happen at once on this kind of scale.”
Investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue, NW Natural, Portland Police and other agencies were expected to continue searching for clues to help explain how a natural gas rupture in the street could send apparently migrating gas into two nearby buildings. They also want to determine what ignited the gas, shooting flames skyward, exploding like a bomb and sending up billowing plumes of smoke.
Haynes, who started cosmetics store Blush a dozen years ago on 23rd, said Friday she didn’t know when she’d be able to reopen.
Several of the floor-to-ceiling windows were shattered as well as the front-door glass.