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A large fire at an auto-salvage yard has sent heavy smoke into the sky over Portland, Oregon. (March 12)

Media: Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A massive fire ignited Monday at a Portland auto-wrecking yard and spread to an apartment building and a duplex.

No injuries were reported in the eight to 10 units that were destroyed, but firefighters said more than a dozen cats died.

The blaze started at about 9 a.m. on a breezy, unseasonably warm day. Portland Fire & Rescue said piles of scrap cars caught fire, and the blaze was difficult to fight because of the wind, flammable materials and an inadequate water supply in that part of northeast Portland.

During the first few hours of the blaze, towering plumes of smoke could be seen throughout the Portland area and Vancouver, Washington. Fire officials evacuated some homes, and urged anyone within a mile of the scene to close their windows or leave. One school canceled classes.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but firefighters confirm it started in the scrap yard.

Capt. Louisa Jones, a Portland fire spokeswoman, said the fire was expected to burn for hours, and crews plan to stay throughout the evening.