It looked like an earthquake had hit -- but the fire department said the building remained safe

DAVID F. ASHTON - Three businesses were temporarily closed, just east of S.E. 48th Avenue at Division Street, after façade bricks and parapet pieces showered down onto the sidewalk in front of them on May 3rd. After a couple of summer-like days, Portlanders riding Ducati and BMW motorcycles were having their bikes tuned up at Cheshire Motorsports, at 4815 S.E. Division Street, on May 3rd – only to be endangered by falling bricks.

"It was our busiest day of the year," remarked employee Jake Gellinger, as he and the shop's owner looked out at the rubble on the sidewalk in front of the shop about 5 p.m. that evening.

"Two customers had just rolled their bikes out when we heard a loud rumbling sound," Gellinger told THE BEE. "We glanced up, and couldn't see anything other than a thick cloud of dust that that came rolling into the shop."

Their concern for the customers melted away when they heard the nervous laughter of patrons. Amazingly, nobody had gotten hit by the unexpected fusillade of bricks. "We figured that they're okay, but we were afraid to go outside the building to look, right away," Gellinger recalled.

It all happened in a moment, just before 4 p.m. that afternoon. The Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Structural Collapse Rescue Team was amongst the fire units called to assess rescue and medical needs, after as many as 200 bricks fell from the building's façade and parapet, tumbling onto the sidewalk and out into the street.

"Given the amount of pedestrian traffic that was on the sidewalk, I am relieved that we didn't have our teams scrambling to get people uncovered and transported to hospitals." commented Battalion Chief Andy Ponce, surveying the scene with Tech Rescue team members. The cause of the collapse has not been announced, but after a thorough inspection, the businesses in the building were allowed to reopen.

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