At approximately 2200 PDT on Sunday, 14 May 2017, a fire broke out at a warehouse in North Portland, 1300 North River Road. The warehouse is located on the northern bank of the Willamette River and is constructed on wood pilings partly over the river. No one was injured in the fire. The building had a history of safety and other violations and the building owner has no insurance and does not have the financial means to address the situation. Wind-blown ash and debris has been found southwest of the river, in a densely populated residential area consisting of mostly multi-story buildings. Fire crews have been on the scene since the fire started and continue to address hot spots.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) conducted an preliminary assessment of the warehouse and nearby properties on Monday 15 May 2017 and determined that the roofing paper contains 90% chrysotile asbestos. The roofing paper is significantly deteriorated and friable when touched. ODEQ has requested EPA assistance in conducting air monitoring, surveying the area for debris, and addressing mixed asbestos contamination at the warehouse and the debris deposited in the residential area across the river.
On Tuesday, May 14, 2017, EPA mobilized three On-Scene Coordinators and an Incident Management Team to form unified command with ODEQ.