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Fire at Happy Valley fiberglass warehouse most likely set intentionally, investigators say

Clackamas Fire officials said they haven't identified the suspect, but are working with the sheriff's office.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore — A large fire that broke out at Miles Fiberglass on Otty Road early Saturday morning was set intentionally, Clackamas Fire officials said. The update came during a townhall meeting Sunday evening. 

Clackamas Fire District #1 Fire Marshal Sean Olsen said the building's previous history and the 'surrounding population' in the area led investigators to rule that the most likely cause.

"I was able to speak with the investigator this afternoon and the cause of this fire has been ruled most probable as intentional," Olsen said. "We do not have an adequate ignition source with this fire but based on past history and with the surrounding population within that area. We've come up with the conclusion that it's probably intentional." 

Olsen also mentioned that the fire originated on the northeast corner on the outside of the building and quickly spread inside the building.

"We do not have any person in mind or a suspect in mind that could have started this fire but we'll be working with Clackamas County Sheriff's Office closely to try to determine that," Olsen said.

Clackamas Fire and Portland Fire crews were called to 8855 SE Otty Rd at around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday to combat the 3-alarm fire. According to Clackamas Fire, firefighters were forced to fight the fire from the building's exterior due to the threat of a wall collapsing.  The fire was under control by mid-morning, fire officials told KGW.

No injuries from the fire were reported. Clackamas County announced Saturday evening that one person had been found dead inside one of the apartment units during the evacuation. The county said the State Medical Examiner's office concluded that the death occurred before the fire broke out and is unrelated.

Credit: Clackamas Fire
Fire crews attacking fire from building exterior

Fire officials initially asked people living nearby to stay inside. Two of the Rosewood Station apartment buildings nearby were evacuated Saturday evening over concerns about asbestos in the ash and fire debris, but the evacuation advisory has been lifted. Residents can still contact the county for short-term shelter options if they feel unsafe and they can coordinate that by calling 2-1-1. 

Air monitoring tests from multiple units in the apartment buildings, as well as outside, have all registered below any level of concern for excess asbestos presence, Clackamas County said Sunday afternoon. Testing remains ongoing for particles on surfaces inside the building units. The county does not anticipate having those results until Wednesday or Thursday. The Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency representatives have inspected inside the buildings as well.

RELATED: Evacuation advisory lifted for two apartment buildings due to possible asbestos in debris from fire in Happy Valley

Miles Fiberglass and Composites wrote on Facebook that the commercial structure where the fire occurred was a former company building that was no longer occupied. 

Clackamas County said that the building is now owned by the Clackamas County Development Agency. The county already had a contract in place to demolish the structure, with work previously expected to begin in the next few weeks. Recent testing found asbestos in the building materials, the county said, and the contract was in the process of being adjusted to account for proper disposal.

Neighbors said they often saw people going in and out of the abandoned building. Fires and other incidents have been common at the building.

“Just the other day there was five or six police cars, just parked in there,” said Sean Patrick, one of the neighbors.

Clackamas Fire Department officials said they responded to a fire last week at the same location.

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