Cigarette starts fire in downtown electrical vault

Credit: KXL/Jim Ferretti

Twitter: @KXLJimFerretti

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by Jeff Thompson, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 4:33 PM

PORTLAND -- Traffic slowed and MAX lines were disrupted Thursday afternoon when smoke began pouring out of three manhole covers in downtown Portland.

A fire started in a PGE electrical vault just after 1 p.m. at Southwest 5th Avenue and Southwest Main Street, said Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman.

Smoke billowed out of three nearby manhole covers, all connected to the same vault.

Fifth Avenue was closed to traffic for three blocks and the MAX Green and Yellow lines were stopped while crews put out the fire and began the investigation. The fire was extinguished before 2 p.m.

Chatman said dried-out leaves and branches that had fallen inside the vault likely caught fire when someone tossed a smoldering cigarette down the manhole.

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