Former Kmart in Portland that became a homeless squat burns down in huge fire

Several complaints had been made by nearby residents about homeless people living in the building.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
An abandoned Kmart store that homeless vagrants have been using as their temporary home in Portland, Oregon was riddled by a massive fire on Wednesday, authorities say.

Portland Fire Bureau spokesperson Rick Graves told The Oregonian that it was only a matter of time before the site was set ablaze.

"We know this structure," Graves asserted. "We've known this has been vacant for some time … [with] people gaining occupancy and using it as their home."

Several complaints from nearby residents have recently been made towards the city over the building's accessibility and draw for homeless individuals, trash, and debris. The most recent complaint, filed on July 6, prompted a city inspection, which is currently ongoing. 

It is unknown at this moment if anyone was trapped inside the structure when the fire broke out on Wednesday morning. No known injuries exist, authorities say.

Firefighters were able to gain control of the blaze on Wednesday morning, with Graves explaining that the "major challenge" in controlling the fire was a lack of water supply due to a lack of water hydrants in the area, according to the outlet.

A nearby resident, 67-year-old Laurel McAfee, told reporters that huge bunches of ash were scattered throughout the yard of her home. 

"It was bizarre," McAfee said of the fire. "Well, it’s not bizarre because that thing has been a friggin’ eyesore."

"There’s just ash everywhere," she explained. "Reminds me of the Fourth of July."

McAfee said the initial "boom" was so loud she had "thought maybe a car had hit a building or something."

The cause of Wednesday’s fire has not yet been identified. 

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