Two people suffered burn injuries Wednesday night after an explosion and fire at a marijuana-extraction company at the corner of Portway and Industry streets in Astoria.
According to the Astoria Police Department, three people were working in a walkout basement at Higher Level Concentrates when an explosion occurred around 6:30 p.m. All three escaped. Two were transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital with burn injuries and later taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.
Cody Smith, a crane operator for Bergerson Construction Co., said he was working on a well on Pier 3 when he saw smoke billowing from the direction of his employer’s offices, which are across the Astoria Riverfront Trolley tracks from Higher Level Concentrates. He went back to see what was happening.
“There were people standing on the west side” of the building, Smith said. “One guy was burned pretty bad.
“They were doing something with butane and it blew up.”
A crowd of people gathered around the building to watch more than 10 firefighters battle the blaze. Police formed a perimeter and shut down the intersection at Portway Street and Marine Drive. By 7:20 p.m., the fire had been contained, and Marine Drive had been reopened.
The building is leased by Chris West and Jason Oei for the concentrates company and a commercial-grow operation, Astoria Trading Co. The pair also sublease space in the building on Portway Street to Sweet Relief Natural Medicine, a marijuana dispensary. The dispensary was also damaged in the blaze.
Astoria Deputy Police Chief Eric Halverson said the Clatsop County Fire Investigation Team, Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and Oregon State Police arson investigators will meet today to determine the cause of the fire. “At this point this matter remains under investigation and we hope to have more answers as to exactly what happened following the fire investigation,” he said in a release.