Portland Bagelworks Vanishes in Northwest 23rd Avenue Gas-Leak Explosion

Eight people injured in Nob Hill blast.

An explosion and four-alarm fire destroyed a Northwest 23rd Avenue bagel shop on Wednesday morning, injuring eight people.

The blast shattered windows in a next-door apartment building and cut power for much of Northwest Portland.

Video by Mike Bivins

Portland Fire & Rescue officials were in the process of evacuating people from nearby residences and businesses when the gas line exploded in the wooden building that housed Portland Bagelworks.

Three firefighters, two police officers, and three other people were injured. No one was killed. Two firefighters suffered broken legs, and one is in surgery.

Video by Mike Bivins

Lawyer Tim Volpert works in a building adjacent to the bagel shop. He got to work around 8:30 am, hopped on a conference call around 9 am and recalls firefighters bursting into his unlocked office around 9:05 am.

"Everybody out now," the firefighter said before ushering Volpert out the building and down the block.

Several minutes later, the first explosion rocked NW 23rd Avenue. Huge flames shot in the air. Volpert's not sure what if anything is left of his office.

"Those firemen, they saved our lives," says Volpert. "They didn't take no for an answer."

Portland Bagelworks building. (KATU-TV) Portland Bagelworks building. (KATU-TV)

Eric Ohman, son of former Oregonian cartoonist Jack Ohman, took video of the fire about 90 seconds after the explosion.

UPDATE, 3:30 pm: The explosion destroyed a three-story 1906 building, assessed last year at $771,000, that housed Portland Bageworks and eyewear boutique Fetch. Employees at Fetch tweeted that everyone in the store left safely—but the store cat, Mau Mau, was missing.

Gas utility NW Natural issued a statement saying a contractor nicked one of the company's gas lines at 8:55 am.

"NW Natural crews were onsite at 9:10 am," the company wrote. "We evacuated the building and were working with the fire department on scene when an ignition occurred. We do not know the cause."

The American Red Cross has opened a reception center for people affected by the blast. It's located at Temple Beth Israel on NW 17th Avenue and Glisan Street.

WW has obtained audio of the call between firefighters and emergency dispatch at the time of the explosion.

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Photos taken by WW's news partner KATU-TV show the blast not only destroyed the Bagelworks building, but blew out the windows of neighboring apartments.


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