A two-alarm fire seriously damaged the central building of the Portland Mercado food pod and shopping center early Wednesday morning. Just after 5:30 a.m., Portland Fire & Rescue arrived in response to 9-11 calls reporting “explosions” at the Mercado, according to press release. While firefighters initially believed the flames to be isolated to a single business, Portland Fire & Rescue reported the onsite crew “discovered active fire hidden in odd void spaces within the ceiling,” necessitating a more aggressive response, including a second alarm and sawing through the building’s roof. The fire was extinguished after approximately 30 minutes. The building was unoccupied when firefighters arrived and no injuries were reported.
According to Andréa Guedes of the Hacienda Community Development Corporation, the developer behind the Mercado and several housing projects in Portland, the fire began inside the building around 3 a.m. and caused extensive damage to all the businesses within, including Xŏcotl smoothie bar and Barrio wine bar.
Guedes said that none of the eight food carts on site were directly damaged by the fire, but the carts will be closed until further notice due to lack of power and water supplied from the main building. Xŏcotl co-owner Omar Salomon said none of his shop’s supplies or equipment onsite were recoverable. The street-facing Barrio appeared to be completely destroyed by the flames. Portland Fire & Rescue is investigating the fire’s cause.
“Today we are heartbroken,” a post on the Mercado’s Instagram reads. “We are sincerely grateful for the support of our first responders who ensured the fire was put out safely.”
Portland Mercado recently saw the departure of Latin grocery Kaah Market to a nearby location on Southeast Foster, but Barrio and many of the food carts remained popular with both neighborhood residents and Portlanders drawn to the dynamic collection of Latin American cuisines onsite. Portland Mercado has served as the venue for cultural events and has been frequently featured on Eater as one of Portland’s standout food pods.
Several of the carts have additional locations which remain open, including Tierra del Sol, Tita’s Kitchen, and Fernando’s Alegria. Xŏcotl owners Vanessa and Omar Salomon will be opening a new location on Division and 33rd Avenue in the coming weeks. To support the small businesses impacted by the fire, Hacienda CDC organized a Portland Mercado Fire Relief Fund as they work to reopen the pod; the organization is currently accepting donations.
This story will be updated with more information.