Black powder detonation sends Lents man to hospital

What caused this explosion remains unclear. But, the resulting blast injured a man in his garage …

An ambulance rushes a man, reportedly seared in a black powder explosion, to the Emmanuel Hospital Burn Unit.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Several Lents neighbors were outside their outer East Portland homes playing with children, walking dogs, or doing yard work, on the afternoon of March 27, when they heard a “powerful, muffled explosion” coming from the garage of a nearby home.

When smoke started pouring out of the detached garage of the single-story house at 8310 SE Knapp Street, several neighbors called the 9-1-1 Center to report a fire.

A Portland Police Bureau Sergeant talks with a resident of the house where the blast occurred.

“En route, crews were given additional information that there had been an explosion at the location, not a fire,” recounted Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) spokesperson Chris Schimmer.

Indeed, when the crew of Lents PF&R Station 11 arrived at 5:13 p.m., they found a 40-year-old man in the front yard of the house, showing visible burns.

Police officers cordon off the area, declaring it a “crime scene”.

About three minutes later, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct District officers arrived at the outer East Portland scene.

“The person had second-degree black powder burns to his face and chest,” Schimmer said. “He was transported to Emmanuel Hospital, and currently is in stable condition.”

Although not needed in this particular situation, police have a “FRAG BAG” – made to contain the blast of smaller devices – out to safely contain of potentially explosive materials.

Other than residual smoke from the explosion, no fire hazard was found, Schimmer added. He concluded, “Investigators have not yet released the exact cause of the explosion” – or what the man was doing with black powder in his garage.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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