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Arson Suspected in Aftermath of Inferno

Reward leading to arrest offered up to $2,500

Donovan M. Smith | 8/14/2013, 10:32 a.m.
The Portland Fire Bureau search for answers following Aug. 8's massive fire on MLK Boulevard.

The Portland Fire Bureau is now reporting that the inferno that obliterated a five-story apartment in the midst of construction is now being treated as a case of arson.

The flames at Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard and Monroe Street managed to scorch a few homes as well as some other surrounding property before being put out by firefighters.

The Portland Fire Bureau says the Aug. 8 fire called for seven ladder trucks, more than two dozen engines and more than 130 firefighters in all. It took 6 hours to contain.

Fire Bureau Lt. Rich Chatman says the five-alarm blaze was one of the worst in recent history. Because of the structure half-constructed it lacked typical preventative installations causing the flames to accelerate quickly. In addition, many neighborhood residents were still sleeping at the time the flames broke out, a potentially dangerous situation for evacuations.

On Monday, clean-up crews began sifting through the rubble for salvageable materials. They estimate the clean-up effort will end up costing a minimum of $500,000. However, the amount of damage caused by the fire is being estimated to top $5 million.

There were two homes damaged in the fire but no one was hurt. There in now a security guard on 24-hour watch at the site of the fire.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.