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Restaurant in NE Portland's Hollywood District catches fire, 3rd time in 5 years

The barbecue restaurant had to close for months following two separate fires in 2017 and 2020.

PORTLAND, Ore — A fire damaged a barbecue restaurant in Northeast Portland's Hollywood District on Saturday for the third time in the past five years. 

The fire started near the side door at Reo's Ribs on Northeast 42nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. Fire crews quickly put the fire out and no one was hurt, but the building sustained significant smoke damage. Portland Fire & Rescue is investigating the cause. 

This has been a familiar problem for the restaurant in recent years. 

Back in 2017, a fire gutted the restaurant, forcing it to close for repairs for about a year and a half. It reopened in the fall of 2018. 

Then in 2020, it caught fire again. That time, a transient woman was caught on camera starting the fire. Fire investigators ruled it as arson.

Now employees say it's likely the same scenario this time around.

Credit: KGW
NE Portland restaurant catches fire for the 3rd time since 2017

RELATED: Fire heavily damages Reo's Ribs in Portland

Lashaun Caver, a repairman for the restaurant, was on the scene assessing the damage Monday morning. He said the building will need extensive cleaning and paint to get out the smoke residue and smell. 

"I don't know what happened, but basically we're thinking transients were trying to get themselves warm," said Caver.

The restaurant had just reopened a few months earlier, following repairs from the previous fire, before this latest blow. 

Reo's Ribs lost its insurance coverage after the last two fires. The company has a new insurance provider but is waiting to hear back. 

"You're already having a hard time staying opened as it is, let alone a fire every six months or year. We don't know if they're still covered or not," said Caver. "It's not so much insurance we're depending on. We're depending on ourselves." 

The restaurant hopes to reopen within the next two to six months. 

RELATED: Family announces death of Reo Varnado, owner of Reo's Ribs

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