Updated with developments from 4 p.m. news conference
A massive explosion, apparently ignited by a natural gas leak, ripped through a building Wednesday along the popular Northwest 23rd Avenue shopping district, causing destruction and injuring eight people, including three firefighters, authorities said.
NW Natural employees along with Portland firefighters responded to a natural gas leak reported at 8:55 a.m. in or near the 500 block of Northwest 23rd Ave., said spokeswoman Melissa Moore.
“When we got there (at 9:10 a.m.), we evacuated the building,” Moore said. “There was an ignition. We don’t know the source.”
The explosion happened at 9:38 am., the utility reported. Some witnesses said there were two blasts.
One building that contained a bagel shop, a tattoo parlor and eyewear business was destroyed, while a spa and condo building next-door sustained heavy damage.
Firefighters were inside one of the buildings when the explosion occurred, said Portland Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman said.