(scroll down for latest information, continuing to add it as we get it)
(photo by David Hutchinson)
ORIGINAL 6:23 AM POST (which was headlined “Alki Homestead fire out”): That’s according to Helen Fitzpatrick of the Seattle Fire Department, who says flames were coming from the rear of the restaurant when crews arrived. Crews were sent out about 5:20 am. The Homestead’s log-house building on 61st SW south of Alki SW (map) is a city landmark (since 1996); the restaurant business was up for sale last year and we had reported just before the holidays (11/25/08 WSB report here) that its owner, Tom Lin, had found buyers. According to the Fire Department, no one was in the building at the time of this morning’s fire. More details and photos shortly. 6:43 AM UPDATE: Another photo from David Hutchinson, this one showing the fire-response vehicles lined up all the way onto Alki Ave. Witness reports say firefighters had to cut into the building while fighting the flames. No word of any injuries.
6:49 AM UPDATE: Co-publisher Patrick has an update from SFD spokesperson Fitzpatrick at the scene: The fire broke out on the 1st floor and flames did shoot up through the roof. No idea yet what caused it. Damage is mostly confined to the 1st floor (which of course is the restaurant’s main floor). 61st remains blocked off from Alki Ave to SW Stevens (Log House Museum).
7 AM UPDATE: Most of the fire vehicles are starting to pack up to leave. We’re not being allowed around back of the building so far, so it’s too soon to say just how extensive the damage appears from the outside.
7:06 AM UPDATE: Fitzpatrick says there’s “significant smoke and char damage on the first floor” and some damage in the attic area. Investigation into the cause continues.
7:22 AM UPDATE: Patrick just talked with owner Tom Lin at the scene. The message he wanted to reaffirm: Nobody is hurt – in the past there were tenants renting some space in the building but that space has been vacant for a while. Tom knows his office was damaged but doesn’t know the extent of the restaurant damage yet and so has no idea when it’ll reopen. He told us that he lives nearby and heard the sirens; when he realized how close they were, he went over to look and was shocked to find out it was the Homestead. Patrick asked about the in-progress sale mentioned in our November report; Tom said it hadn’t closed yet but the prospective purchaser had been actively preparing for some potential remodeling work, and the restaurant had been scheduled to close soon because of that (as he’d told us in November). Patrick adds that the fire damage is not visible from outside, at least from the front of the restaurant; Tom believes the thickness of the log structure kept the flames from actually breaking through the framework, aside from the aforementioned attic damage. (added later – video we shot as a TV reporter was interviewing him with the same questions we’d asked some time earlier)
7:38 AM UPDATE: Owner Tom just told Patrick investigators believe the fire was electrical in origin.
8:01 AM NOTE: We’ll have more photos back shortly, more clearly showing the damage from outside. Regarding the mention of the attic, we’re reminded that we covered a special sale at the Homestead last April (here’s our story, with photos); many of the items had been brought out of storage in the attic.
8:15 AM UPDATE: Adding more photos. First, this is from behind the restaurant, showing the roof damage – that’s right behind the famous vertical neon sign:
Looking at the roof from the front, only a little damage can be seen, right around the chimney:
Here’s a wide shot of the restaurant’s century-old building – from this angle, if not for the fire trucks, you wouldn’t have known there’d been a fire:
By the way, if you’ve never been inside the Homestead, here’s a photo of the interior.
10:29 AM UPDATE: From Dana Vander Houwen at the SFD: The fire is blamed on “excessive draw of power for Christmas lights plugged into a single outlet” and damage is estimated at $400,000.
11:45 AM UPDATE: From an opening to the courtyard on the alley behind the restaurant, you can see this sad scene – burned items from inside the restaurant.