PORTLAND -- Firefighters battled a five-alarm blaze in Northeast Portland that destroyed an apartment building and forced neighborhood evacuations early Thursday, authorities said.
The fire started in an apartment complex under construction near the intersection of Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Northeast Monroe Street around 4 a.m. The 5-story building collapsed during the blaze but no firefighters were hurt.
The collapsing building nearly fell on a fire engine, but crews were able to move it out of the way just in time, according to Portland Fire and Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman.
As of 6:30 a.m., the fire was contained and firefighters continued to monitor hot spots.
Firefighters also worked to try and prevent the flames from spreading to surrounding homes. Two adjacent homes sustained damage and about a dozen neighbors were evacuated.
Authorities cut off power in a 4-block radius around the fire scene as a precaution. TriMet buses were also being rerouted around the fire scene.
The Monroe Apartments were being built by Pavilion Contruction. The building included 46 rental units which were almost ready for tenants to move into. Chatman said the apartment building has been reduced to a smoldering "debris pile."
An arson investigator arrived at the scene early Thursday. Authorities said it could take a week to determine the cause of the blaze.
Every available Portland firefighter and piece of equipment responded to the five-alarm fire, including seven ladder trucks, more than two dozen engines and more than 120 firefighters.
A five-alarm fire is that largest call-out for Portland firefighters. The last time local firefighters battled a blaze of this magnitude was when the Thunderbird Hotel burned to the ground in North Portland in Sept. of 2012.