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Fire at ethanol plant west of Portland prompts evacuations

March 16, 2021 GMT

CORNELIUS, Ore. (AP) — Fire crews are battling a fire at an ethanol fuel facility west of Portland in Cornelius that has prompted evacuations, authorities said.

The Cornelius Fire Department on Twitter at about 1:42 p.m. Tuesday called the fire “serious” and posted a photo of the blaze at a building and thick, black smoke above it.

Fire officials then tweeted a map showing an area in which people needed to evacuate, which included a Walmart store, and said others should shelter in place.

At about 2:45 p.m., Cornelius fire officials tweeted that crews were making a plan to attack the flames as safely as possible, adding that it would be a “long duration event.”

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The facility contains several thousand gallons of high-burning ethanol, Cornelius Fire spokesperson Matt Johnston said at a news conference. Crews will not enter the facility to douse the flames until they determine it is safe, Johnston said.

A livestream of the fire from KATU-TV’s helicopter showed several buildings on fire.

No injuries have been reported.

Rosemarie Russell lives across the street and told KOIN-TV it sounded like a car hit her house when the fire started.

“And then another explosion happened and then the fire department came and was knocking on everybody’s door telling them they had one minute to get out. So I had to get all my dogs and leave. It was very scary,” she said.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said they were helping with evacuations. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s Hazmat team is also working at the scene, officials said on Twitter.