Update: Dozens flee fire at 35th SW apartment building; stove problem blamed

(Photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
2:15 AM: A big Seattle Fire callout is en route to the 9000 block of 35th SW (map). The callout is “fire in a building.” The reported address checks to the Barton Court apartment building.

2:25 AM: Via radio: Crews say the fire is in a first-floor unit, and they have it “knocked down” – crews are checking the other floors and haven’t found evidence of spreading, though they’re reporting smoke on the second floor. No word of any injuries, so far.

2:36 AM: From the scene, co-publisher Patrick Sand reports that the tenants evacuated safely and were gathering across 35th outside Southwest Library (photo above) – at least 20 tenants, and several pets. (Here’s one – Taco the cat:)

Firefighters are calling for a Metro bus to give them a place to gather. The smoke in the area is thick, he says. The massive response has 35th SW basically blocked off between Henderson and (to the south) Barton. Compounding matters for all involved: Pounding rain.

3:03 AM: Patrick reports that the fire seems to be out and the concern now is for the evacuees, who as you might expect had to rush out of their apartments not particularly dressed for the outdoors, much less pouring rain. Still awaiting the aforementioned bus. No word if any of them will be able to get back into their apartments tonight – we hope to hear that from the SFD public-information officer that’s been summoned to the scene.

3:31 AM: Update from the scene: A librarian showed up and let the evacuees into Southwest Library to take refuge from the chilly rain. Meantime, some of the SFD units are clearing out and heading back to their stations.

3:51 AM: The incident commander tells us 32 people in all had to leave their apartments – no telling how soon they’ll be allowed back inside, though the damage was reported as largely confined to one first-floor unit and the hall outside it.

(And the Metro bus for the evacuees finally arrived.) 35th is still closed between Henderson and Barton.

4:30 AM: Above, that’s our video of the incident commander’s briefing. Also added a few more photos.

4:43 AM: In comments, a tenant says some of the residents have been allowed back inside.

10:33 AM UPDATE: Seattle Fire spokesperson Kyle Moore says “an electrical malfunction in the kitchen range which ignited combustible materials in the kitchen” is to blame for the fire, adding: “Investigators say the kitchen fire extended to the living room of the bottom level unit. The fire is being ruled accidental. … The apartment resident says a smoke detector alerted her to the fire which allowed her to safely escape. The Red Cross was called to assist the one resident with temporary shelter. The damage estimate is $47,000.”

40 Replies to "Update: Dozens flee fire at 35th SW apartment building; stove problem blamed"

  • Heather April 29, 2013 (2:21 am)

    Wow, I cannot believe how quick you report. I’ve been hearing the sirens for maybe 2 minutes and thought I’d check…

  • ~~Hockeywitch~~ April 29, 2013 (2:27 am)

    Was just woke up by a bunch of Fire Engines and Battalion Chiefs flying up 35th….Hope everyone and their pets are out of the building.

    • WSB April 29, 2013 (2:35 am)

      Had the scanner on and there’s no mistaking a major fire callout. Co-publisher, who usually keeps early watch, got up fast and is at the scene (which is barely a mile from us) – I’m talking to him now – TR

  • Gyngersnap April 29, 2013 (2:35 am)

    I heard screaming and general commotion at 35th & Henderson and heard sirens right away. Huge presence. Can’t quite see what’s going on though, except for emergency vehicle lights.

  • SageK April 29, 2013 (2:40 am)

    Any reason why there are still sirens sounding? Been hearing them nonstop for about 15min now.

    • WSB April 29, 2013 (2:45 am)

      Marshal 5 is on the way right now. They also had what *sounded like* some sort of mixup with part of the dispatch initially – a bunch of units not assigned to this area were dispatched, but quickly swapped out for the right configuration – I imagine that would have led to sirens from other sources (units from the east were in the initial unusual configuration).

  • SageK April 29, 2013 (2:46 am)

    Ah, that makes sense. Thanks :)

  • ~~Hockeywitch~~ April 29, 2013 (2:51 am)

    Another Engine and Ladder Truck just went passed with lights and sirens.

    • WSB April 29, 2013 (2:55 am)

      They were doing ventilation at the top of the building (four floors, I believe) as well as elsewhere so I’m sure the extra ladder truck would be useful. The department’s public-information officer also has been dispatched so we’ll get more details on scene before too long.

  • Ken April 29, 2013 (3:43 am)

    Kudos to the librarian who showed up to allow the residents a place to gather and rest.
    Can’t imagine that’s a normal time to show up for work. I wonder if there is some sort of agreement with the city for libraries to provide shelter when needed and if someone specifically called the librarian requesting assistance?

  • ~~Hockeywitch~~ April 29, 2013 (3:56 am)

    Glad you you all got out safe Hosedown, sorry this happened and on such a yucky weather night (not that ANY weather is right for it)
    I agree with Ken…KUDOS to the Librarian for letting everyone in for shelter from the cold and rain. Very cool.

  • hosedown April 29, 2013 (4:37 am)

    Thanks HW. Third and fourth floor residents were just allowed to reoccupy, but poor first and second floor renters won’t be able to go back in today. Some had to do the Red Cross thing. Feel really bad for them.

  • DaPuffin April 29, 2013 (5:22 am)

    So relieved that people are safe.
    Is RapidRide stop at 35th/Barton affected this a.m.?

  • Bonnie April 29, 2013 (6:40 am)

    Wow, I live 4 blocks west of this and did not hear a single thing! I’m glad everybody is okay. (and their pets too)

  • Amanda April 29, 2013 (7:15 am)

    A Librarian opened the library at 3:30 in the morning for them?? Who is this Saint? Wow, that’s amazing :) Glad to hear everyone is okay, so sorry about the fire.

  • miws April 29, 2013 (7:23 am)

    Yes, what Ken said, kudos to the librarian!


    I’m also curious as to whether the librarian did this on their own; lives nearby and heard the sirens? read about it on WSB? or through some other pre-arranged process. Either way, the librarian deserves some kind of humanitarian award, but especially if they did it on their own! :-)


    hosedown, glad to hear that you and most others are okay, and came out relatively unscathed. Sending good thoughts to those that couldn’t get back into their homes.



  • Joe Fithian April 29, 2013 (7:37 am)

    Thank you for the kind words. I am the security manager for The Seattle Public Library. I was sent due to an alarm in the library. We have no agreements to open the building but it was simply the right thing to do. The praise though appreciated really isn’t necessary. I was just doing my job. I hope everything turns out well for all that were affected.


  • alie madsen April 29, 2013 (7:43 am)

    My apt is on the first floor. My neighbors apt is ruined. Believe it or not it isnt her fault it caught fire. There is a lot of minor details many do not know. However, my neighbor is not a partier. She has a lot of family whom she is very close with…
    how dare however posted that.
    I am one of few whom arent allowed at home for a few days.

    • WSB April 29, 2013 (8:59 am)

      Alie, sorry, nobody flagged us on that comment which I didn’t notice while busy covering the fire – making a claim like that about anybody breaks our rules and it’s been deleted. SFD has not yet announced their determination of the cause – I will be checking with them till they do – TR

  • sc April 29, 2013 (8:22 am)

    Thanks to the wonderful librarian! I would rather wait in the library than a Metro bus.

  • Amanda April 29, 2013 (8:39 am)

    Hooray Joe! You are awesome and the praise is most DEFINITELY necessary :) Sorry Alie – hope you can get things back to normal soon.

  • MK April 29, 2013 (9:52 am)

    I live next door, and was woken up by it. I just want to say thank you to the Seattle Fire Department, the Seattle Public Library, and for our neighbors going out of their way to help others. It’s good to know there are still good people out there! Please let us know if there is any way we can help.

  • Heather April 29, 2013 (9:58 am)

    I once had a family member who lost everything in a fire. They said it was so devastating because it happened so quickly and absolutely everything was destroyed. If you’re able maybe a gift card to Target so that somebody can purchase the basics they need might be appreciated. (I chose Target because it’s close and they have basics – undergarments, clothing, house essentials, pet stuff,,,)

  • Chris W April 29, 2013 (9:58 am)

    Great job, Joe!!

  • Josh W April 29, 2013 (11:01 am)

    Great reporting WSB!

  • ~~Hockeywitch~~ April 29, 2013 (11:06 am)

    Joe, you are right, it was the right thing to do and I’m happy you were able to help those people out when they needed it the most. My apartment building caught fire several years ago when the son of one of my neighbors set her car on fire. Flames travel so fast, it’s so scary, add all that smoke. I am so happy that everyone was able to get out with their pets safely. Alie, hope you are able to get back into you apartment soon. Sad about your neighbor though. The news said it was an electrical issue with the stove. It’s not for us to judge and speculate what happened or how it started, that’s up to the SFD. Hope she is ok and that everyone who is needing assistance is getting the help they need. Thank you SFD and Joe and everyone who came to the rescue of all involved.

  • Norma April 29, 2013 (11:09 am)

    If one wanted to make a donation of a gift card or money where should it be sent?

  • stephanie April 29, 2013 (11:24 am)

    Love the librarian who helped!

  • Bunnyfer April 29, 2013 (12:44 pm)

    And this is why librarians are awesome!!!

  • furryfaces April 29, 2013 (12:47 pm)

    Contacted WSB to see if people need any assistance with their pets. (smoke inhalation; boarding; new food because what they had is now smoke/water damaged).

    Based on WSB’s recommendation, we will be contacting the fire department to find out. (Thank you WSB). In the meantime, if anyone hears of pet assistance, needs, please email us a furryfaces@hotmail.com, with the details and any contact information.

    So glad no one was hurt.

    Joe Fithian…you rock. Heard that you were keeping the people with dogs in one area and people with cats in another area. Well done!!!!

  • daPuffin April 29, 2013 (1:16 pm)

    Great idea, Norma.

  • Gina April 29, 2013 (2:23 pm)

    Kudos to Joe!

  • Diane April 29, 2013 (2:55 pm)

    this is my greatest fear as an apt dweller; thank god everyone is safe

  • Teri Ensley April 29, 2013 (4:46 pm)

    …and it’s my greatest fear as a home owner too! Fire is frightening!

  • yacman April 29, 2013 (6:19 pm)

    I wonder if the WSB could do a little interview with Joe Fithian and give him some public kudos for allowing the folks to get shelter. It would be nice to publish his picture and give him some publicity for his commendable action.

  • m April 29, 2013 (10:56 pm)

    So glad to hear everyone made it out safely. @ Joe – Your compassion and humility is inspiring.

  • tiffany April 30, 2013 (1:02 am)

    I too live in the apartments and wanted to thank Joe and the sfd for all their help and kindness!

  • MK April 30, 2013 (3:05 am)

    As Norma said, if we are interested in making a donation to the victim, where could we send it? Thanks WSB.

    • WSB April 30, 2013 (6:29 am)

      Hi – I would suggest contacting the Seattle Red Cross. I don’t have any contact information otherwise.

  • Amy B May 1, 2013 (10:49 pm)

    I have a friend who lives on the 3rd floor of this building. I saw her yesterday evening and she’s okay. She lives with a dog and cat and her very frail mother. She said a very nice lady took her mom into her apartment, so she was doing much better rather than being out in the rain. My friend was quite grateful to the librarian who opened up the library. Yes, librarians are awesome!

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