(TOPLINE: 5 teenagers, reported at the scene to be celebrating the end of the school year at an Auburn high school, went to the hospital after someone added some kind of “accelerant” to a fire in an Alki Beach fire pit, resulting in what witnesses described as an “explosion.”)
(1st 2 photos by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
9:12 PM: We’re arriving at Alki where multiple emergency crews are tending to what we are told may be a case of someone with burn injuries … more momentarily. It’s happening at 59th and Alki SW – police are handling traffic control in the area – steer clear of there TFN. One witness describes what happened as a “fire pit explosion” and we are told more than one person has been transported to the hospital.
9:19 PM: Nearby resident Ben Hutchinson reports what he saw, and shares two photos:
About 20 minutes ago (20 minutes before the time of me sending this email), I was sitting in my room using my computer, when I heard a loud explosion. It sounded like maybe an illegal large/homemade firework exploding. I went outside to see what was going on. From the balcony of my apartment, I saw some burning material outside the fire ring just to the left of the fire ring. It appeared to be in the middle of the pile of belongings that the group of people had who were at the fire ring. Also to the right of the fire ring, I saw some burning material about 20 feet away. They people were throwing sand on, and stomping on the fire to put it out. I quickly pulled out my cellphone and to a picture on the phone’s camera, but they’d put out the fire by the time I pulled it out.
... About 5 minutes after this the 2 fire engines, and a medic arrived.
Other witnesses tell us at least two people were transported.
We’ll be adding Ben’s photos shortly.
9:24 PM UPDATE: Christopher Boffoli was the first photojournalist there for WSB and tells us that fire crews told him five people have been taken to Harborview Medical Center with burns. He was also told that this was an end-of-year gathering involving students from Auburn; someone threw gasoline on a bonfire, and that’s what led to what multiple witnesses describe to us as an “explosion.”
10 PM UPDATE: Still awaiting info from formal briefing by Seattle Fire. Some online discussion cites witnesses as saying it was a “gas can,” not fluid itself – we’ll find out soon what SFD has determined.
10:21 PM UPDATE: Briefing by SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore is over. He says the five victims are all “high-school age” – two males taken by SFD medic unit have serious burns, two other male victims and one female with less-serious burns were transported to hospital(s) by private ambulances. Investigators are still trying to officially determine exactly what the “accelerant” and reported container were; the fire marshal is en route to the hospital to interview the victims who are OK enough to talk with him. We have the full briefing on video and will upload it to add here when our crew is back.
11:28 PM UPDATE: Seattle Fire has posted its account – only new information includes the degree of burns, 2nd and 3rd degree for the boys described as seriously burned. (Above this line, we’ve added the unedited video of the SFD briefing.)
TUESDAY MORNING: Police have also posted their online account; its only new detail is affirmation that their Arson/Bomb Squad is handling the followup investigation.
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