Investigation reveals static electricity discharge was likely cause

A static electricity discharge is the likely culprit that sparked a fire early Friday morning at Oregon Sandblasting and Coating in Tualatin.

A Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue investigator worked for several days to determine the cause of the fire that caused an estimated $23,000 worth of damage.

At about 1:34 a.m. on Friday, several calls reported flames coming from Oregon Sandblasting and Coating, 10000 S.W. Herman Road. When the first crews arrived just before 2 a.m., firefighters saw 20-foot flames coming from an industrial forklift. Adding to the fire was a half-full 1,000-gallon propane storage tank, which caught fire after venting gas through its pressure-relief valve. Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A fire involving a forklift fuel tank and propane storage tank took TVF&R crews an hour to contain and put out. An investigator is looking into the cause and damages.

Approximately 40 firefighters worked for nearly an hour to keep both the forklift's fuel tank and the propane tank cool in order to prevent the fire from escalating.

“One of the challenges of fighting propane is you've essentially got to let it burn itself out,” said Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokesman Piseth Pich. “You can't get water into the tank, so you just have to keep it cool.”

The fire's proximity to and ultimate inclusion of the propane tank prompted fire officials to elevate the incident to a first-alarm right away. This pulled in additional resources and enabled crews to isolate the fire and bring it under control, saving a nearby building and other equipment.

An Oregon Sandblasting and Coating employee was reportedly refueling a forklift fuel tank at the time of the fire and escaped without injury. Other workers on duty were able to evacuate with no reported injuries. One firefighter endured a minor ankle sprain, and according to Pich is in good condition.

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