Thousands startled after loud boom rattles west Vancouver


A non-empty propane bottle that went into an industrial shredder likely caused the explosion at Pacific Coast Shredding

VANCOUVER — With skies yellow from massive wildfires north and south of them, people living in downtown Vancouver could be forgiven for being alarmed when they heard — and felt — a massive boom shortly before noon on Thursday.

Pacific Coast Shredding on Port Way in Vancouver. Photo via Google Street View
Pacific Coast Shredding on Port Way in Vancouver. Photo via Google Street View

The explosion came from Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way, according to Captain Joe Spatz with Vancouver Fire Department.

“We were still many, many blocks out and people were outside looking in that direction,” Spatz says one of the responders told him. “So we knew it was fairly significant.”

Given the magnitude of the explosion, crews were surprised to find that no one had been hurt, and there was no fire inside the building.

A loud explosion inside Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way in Vancouver was likely caused by a propane bottle. No one was hurt. Photo courtesy Pacific Coast Shredding
A loud explosion inside Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way in Vancouver was likely caused by a propane bottle. No one was hurt. Photo courtesy Pacific Coast Shredding

The cause was likely a propane canister that hadn’t been drained properly, and exploded when it entered the industrial grade shredder at the business, which is part of Metro Metals, Inc.

“One of the workers down there who talked to our guys said that he’s been there a few years and they’ve had that happen before,” said Spatz. 

That same employee did mention that this explosion, which was heard as far away as Felida according to some accounts on social media, was one of the loudest that he has heard.

“They don’t have any way of knowing, for sure, what it was,” Spatz added, “but it didn’t damage their equipment and they were able to continue their operations.”

Given everything that’s going on, Spatz says their firefighters were relieved to have something end well.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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