3-alarm fire at old fiberglass plant in Happy Valley ‘intentional’: Authorities

Clackamas County officials said Sunday the air was clear of hazardous materials after a 3-alarm fire in an old fiberglass manufacturing plant.
Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 10:07 AM PDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2023 at 5:17 PM PDT
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HAPPY VALLEY Ore. (KPTV) - Clackamas County officials said Sunday the air was clear of hazardous materials after a 3-alarm fire in an old fiberglass manufacturing plant triggered evacuations early Saturday morning in Happy Valley. Investigators looking into the fire say they believe the fire was intentionally set but don’t currently have suspect leads.

Firefighters with Clackamas Fire and Portland Fire & Rescue responded in the early hours of Saturday to a fire in the empty Miles Fiberglass and Composites manufacturing plant on Southeast Otty Road.

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Two residential buildings were evacuated as crews battled the fire, because the county had previously found asbestos in the building materials of the plant, which was scheduled for demolition in the next few weeks.

People in Happy Valley woke to flames Saturday morning as crews battled a 3-alarm commercial fire in the empty Miles Fiberglass manufacturing plant.

Over Saturday and Sunday, officials monitored the air quality around the smoldering building, as well as inside the nearby apartment complexes. On Sunday afternoon, they announced that tests from multiple units in the apartment buildings, as well as from outside, have all registered below any level of concern for excess asbestos presence. However, they also said surface testing is still ongoing and the county won’t have those results until Wednesday or Thursday.

County officials will hold a community meeting community meeting Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Mt. Scott Elementary School gym.

During the active fire on Saturday, people living nearby were told to stay indoors.

“I looked out my window and there’s black smoke and flames and the fire department is everywhere,” said Samantha Wright. “My girl is freaking out, my boys are freaking out thinking the fire is going to come and get them.”

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“When I came out here it was literally black,” said Karen Gray. “It was billowing up. I mean it looked like the front of our apartment was on fire.”

Firefighters said no injuries have been reported at this time.

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The building has been vacant for three years.

According to a statement issued by Clackamas County Saturday afternoon, the building is currently owned by the Clackamas County Development Agency and was scheduled for demolition over the next several weeks.

“Recent testing found the presence of asbestos in the building’s materials, and the contract was being adjusted for the proper disposal of those materials,” the county said.

3-alarm commercial fire that started early Saturday in Clackamas County triggers ‘shelter in place’ orders for people living near the burning fiberglass plant.

Officials said ash and debris remain a concern, as hazardous materials could have spread as far as a mile away from the building. Ash may be on streets, private property and elsewhere.

The county is telling residents to report debris and to not clean it themselves.

Clackamas County also said that while crews were going through the two buildings under evacuation orders, they found a dead resident in one unit. But the Medical Examiner’s office said they died before the fire and that there was no connection between the death and the fire.

Official information about the fire can be found on the Clackamas County website here

To report debris, residents can contact the county at EOCoperations@clackamas.us with specific details about the location and debris. The county said to keep children and pets away from ash until it has been cleaned.