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Natural gas fire burns unfinished Tigard condos

Firefighters let gas burn about a half hour until pipeline shut down
by: Jaime Valdez, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighter Chris Parkston tries to keep flames from a natural gas line from spreading to nearby unfinished condominiums in the Canterbury Heights development on Southwest Canterbury Lane.

A broken natural gas line sparked a fire Tuesday morning that damaged condominiums under construction in Tigard.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue spokesman Storm Smith said the fire started at about 9:36 a.m. when a ditch-digging machine punctured the natural gas pipe, sending flames up the side of a two-story, six-unit unfinished condominum building at 10777 S.W. Canterbury Lane, a couple blocks east of Pacific Highway.

Twenty firefighters from the King City Station 35 were able to knock down the fire on the unfinished condo in about 12 minutes, Smith said.

They were unable to shut down the natural gas line, so firefighters allowed the gas to burn and vent until a NW Natural crew arrived, he said. Firefighters poured water on the flames to keep the blaze under control until the gas line was shut off at about 10 a.m.

The Lake Oswego Fire Department provided backup for the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue crew.

Two people were operating the machine at the time of the fire. One suffered minor burns, but refused treatment.

The project is being built by Polygon Northwest of Vancouver, Wash. The condo building's roof was completed and there was siding on the exterior, but only a portion of the interior had been finished.

The fire damage was confined to a ground-floor condo and a unit directly above it.

A Polygon Northwest representative estimated the damage at about $25,000. The condominium complex contains 31 buildings with a total of 139 units that sell for between $175,000 and $280,000.

Dana Hunt, project manager, said his workers would remove and replace all fire-damaged materials.