Photo courtesy of KATU
Thousands of NE residents who had to evacuate late Monday night, can now return.
They were evacuated because of unhealthy air from the hazardous smoke of the 5-alarm fire that burned Northwest Metals scrap yard on Monday.
Dr. Paul Lewis, Multnomah County Health Officer, says EPA readings show improved air quality and it's safe to return for some residents.
The mandatory evacuation zone is still in effect for those who live from NE 72nd to NE 76th, and from NE Killingsworth Street to NE Alberta Street.
Lewis says the EPA will continue to monitor the particles in the air as the air quality continues to improve. The DEQ will also be testing for other possible issues.
Now that the fire is contained, Kim Cosmos, Spokesperson for Portland Fire and Rescue, says they'll be bringing in heavy equipment to move everything from the scrap yard to a next door parking lot so investigators can sift through it.
Cosmos says it will be a slow process, so investigators don't accidentally disturb what may have been the cause of the fire.