Apartments next to Westside devastated by fire

Massive fire engulfs the apartments above Westside Market on 14th Avenue

On Tuesday, May 16, at approximately 10:45 a.m., a fire started in the apartments next to Westside Market on SW 14th Ave. Lincoln students were told by Vice Principal Chris Brida to remain inside the building and to not go in the direction of the fire.

The surrounding area was closed off one block on each side of the building. Concerned crowds gathered around the police barriers that lined the streets. Two bridges over the I-405 were closed for firemen and police, and firemen and first responders were dispersed throughout the chaos.

One firefighter took a break for a brief interview while refilling his fire truck with a hydrant across the street from the flames. When asked if anyone knew what started the fire, he said they didn’t know. 

“We won’t know for a long time,” the firefighter said.

Across the street from the apartment building at SuperJoy Coffee Lab/Roasters, the barista who was working when the fire started recounted her reaction. 

“One window was on fire and I saw the fire coming out of it and there was a couple ambulances and firetrucks coming out. As more time went on I could see the fire get more intense and the windows busting,” she said. “It was scary. I hope everyone’s ok. I’m just thinking about the people that live there and their experience.”

By noon all occupants of the building had been safely evacuated. When asked if anyone was hurt, a medical first responder said, “not yet, not that I’ve heard of.”

Principal Chapman wrote in an email to PPS families at approximately 2 PM that “all the people and pets were evacuated from the apartment fire.”

However, on May 17th The Oregonian reported that “an unknown number of pets were killed.”

On the day of the fire, a fire marshal walking through the crowd said that the building was at risk of collapse due to the fire. At about 1:30, all official vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and police cars were removed from the building’s immediate area and firemen inside the building were evacuated for their safety. Later that day the top levels of apartments collapsed in on themselves, and the building is now set to be demolished.

According to an article by Koin 6, residents of the apartments are now receiving temporary housing at the University of Portland.


Update: Portland Police Bureau reported that on the evening of Thursday, May 25th apartment resident Garrett A. Repp was arrested on charges of arson for starting the fire.


Last updated: 5/26/23 at 11:12 a.m.