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Broken gas pipe sparks evacuation at Fred Meyer

Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Flames engulf a ceiling-mounted heater after a Fred Meyer worker broke the line leading to it with a forklift.A small fire in the merchandise pickup area at the Cornelius Pass Fred Meyer store near Highway 26 forced the brief evacuation of shoppers Monday afternoon.

The fire broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. in the northwest corner of the store. When firefighters from Hillsboro Fire Station 3 arrived, they found flames engulfing a ceiling-mounted commercial heater. Firefighters poured water on the heater to keep the fire from spreading to the roofing materials and nearby merchandise storage. Other crews located valves and shut off the flow of natural gas. Store workers told investigators that an employee was using a fork lift to place merchandise on high storage racks when the fork lift struck and broke the natural gas pipe leading to the heater. The free-flowing gas quickly ignited. Workers used a portable fire extinguisher in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the flames. The store was evacuated for about half an hour while firefighters shut off the gas, checked for fire extension into the ceiling areas and isolated the damaged natural gas line so the store could resume operations. Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - A Hillsboro firefighter cools a heater that burst into flames after a worker broke the gas line feeding it.

Customers were allowed back in to the store at about 2 p.m. Investigators place the damage estimate at about $5,000.

No one was injured in the mishap.

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