After Portland Explosion, Local Businesses Pick Up the Pieces

October 24, 2016 • 5 min read
Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson


Portland Explosion

The smoke has cleared and 23rd is again open, but the gas explosion that rocked NW Portland at 9:39, Wednesday, October 19, has damaged more small businesses than initially thought.

Portland Bagelworks, Artwork Rebels, Fetch Eyewear, and Dosha Salon Spa have been completely destroyed. In addition, the following businesses have also been damaged.

Kitchen Kaboodle were able to reopen on the 20th, and Dosha Salon Spa has moved its northwest staff to other locations. You can find a complete listing on Dosha’s Facebook page. Other businesses are still closed, unsure of when they will be able to reopen.

Blush Beauty Bar has suffered a lot of broken glass, including the front door and floor-to-ceiling windows. Owner Deborah Hales said, “It’s just beyond the scale of what we’re used to. We’ve had individual businesses burned out by fire. We’ve never had all that happen at once on this kind of scale.

The explosion leveled the building at the corner of NW 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street. Eight people were injured—three firefighters, two police officers, three civilians. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.

It appears the explosion was caused by a nicked gas line. Fortunately, Portland Fire and Rescue were already on scene responding to the gas leak when the explosion happened. Firefighters have been widely praised for saving lives by getting folks out of nearby buildings before it was too late. Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Scott Beyers told KGW, “We were very lucky that we didn’t lose somebody.

Portland Fire Chief Mike Myers called the aftermath “the worst devastation he’s seen in his long career.”

And as if the destruction weren’t enough, on Thursday, October 20, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality detected asbestos in the debris. Meanwhile, Portland Fire & Rescue investigators are still working to determine what ignited the gas.

The tattoo parlor Artwork Rebels is planning to open in a new space, eventually. Owner Jason Kundell told KPTV, “The tattoo community has already been helping out immensely, with machines and power supplies, and things like that, and a lot of shops have offered places to work in the meantime.” Those who wish to help can also contribute to the GoFundMe page set up by a supporter.

Fetch Eyewear, which offers Portland designer eyewear collection and donates 100 percent of their profits to animal rescue and adoption via The Pixie Project, appears to have lost their store cat, Mau Mau, in the blast. They are hoping to salvage inventory from an adjacent space and are posting updates to their Twitter feed.

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Community Assistance

On October 20, NW neighbor Hip Hound Pet Shop turned their regular Thursday Yappy Hour into a fundraiser. As their marketing specialist, Ari Ambrutis noted, it’s a particularly bad time of year for a business to have to shut down temporarily, much less try to relocate or rebuild. Jennifer Heckman, Hip Hound’s owner, is helping in other ways, too. Her employees are available to help other businesses clean up as they get ready to re-open, and in-store, customers can buy a $1 star, which goes to a fund for employees of these businesses that are now out of work.

The collective Tender Loving Empire has also set up a fund for now out-of-work employees. Donate here.

Disaster Preparedness

The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates 25 percent of small business don’t reopen after a disaster. Given the community response thus far, the Portland businesses destroyed on October 19, perhaps have better odds.

Though there’s no way to ensure your businesses isn’t ever affected by a natural or man-made disaster, there are many things you can do to keep the damage to a minimum. The SBA offers numerous resources for doing what you can to safeguard your people, property, and your records, as well as some disaster relief.

images from Portland Fire and Rescue’s Twitter feed and Dosha’s Facebook page

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