Update: Smelly scare at long-abandoned church on Avalon Way, but nothing ‘abnormal’ detected

June 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm | In West Seattle news, WS breaking news | 27 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 5:57 PM: We’re on our way to check out an emergency response that has escalated to a hazardous-materials response in the 3000 block of Avalon Way. Avoid the area; updates shortly – and yes, that’s why you are seeing a helicopter overhead; it’s TV. Emergency crews on scene say there’s a “strong smell of gasoline” at the site, which was once a church.

6:08 PM UPDATE: We’re on site – the action is close to Avalon/Yancy. Adding the top photo, sent by Jeff. At least one TV chopper still overhead. No word of any injuries; investigators still trying to find the source, as far as we know. Via the scanner, they’re discussing air-sample readings that so far aren’t showing anything discernible. SFD’s public-information officer has been dispatched so we’ll have a steadier source of information shortly.

6:30 PM UPDATE: A million apologies for our server getting overloaded and shutting down. It’s been reset and hopefully that will be the end of it – we keep increasing capacity and it still isn’t always enough for the next breaking story, so we keep exploring new options for something close to infinite bandwidth. Meantime, nothing new here – fire crews have yet to pinpoint the source, so far as we hear – still investigating all around the building – but keep avoiding the area. For those who are worried about hazardous fumes – there’s been NO confirmation of anything risky – this is all mostly a precaution because of the previously mentioned “strong smell of gasoline.”

6:43 PM UPDATE: Thanks to area resident Jeff, who has the overview of part of the scene and has been updating us – adding another of his photos above this update. He’s seen SFD crews first bring in a tarp, then bring in fans, and he noticed the smell getting stronger at one point, but he hasn’t seen them bring anything out. Also of note, the official incident address has been updated to 30th/Adams.

7:05 PM UPDATE: This is now officially scaling down. Bottom line, according to SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore, they didn’t find anything (except evidence of squatters, which neighbors tell us has long been a problem). If you’ve had trouble placing this building – here’s a wider view from William, who lives across the street:

So SFD says the air is safe, no one ever needed to evacuate, and they’ll be packing up. Traffic is moving on Avalon.

7:46 PM UPDATE: Back at HQ; added the photo above showing the big turnout of SFD vehicles, and here’s our video of Moore’s briefing:

As SFD was wrapping up, SPD was going to take a look around, per scanner traffic. So we’ll be following up to see if anything was determined regarding the presence of squatters in the building.

27 Comments

  1. That old “Rod of Aaron” church, perhaps?

    Comment by Laurie — 6:01 pm June 24, 2013 #

  2. just went by there and 3 firetrucks and 4 aid cars went down the side road by Yancy (west of the old All Star Gym). Traffic was starting to backup coming up Avalon so yes avoid that area if possible

    Comment by supernova72 — 6:04 pm June 24, 2013 #

  3. Is that why our water is brown?

    Comment by courtney zeller — 6:05 pm June 24, 2013 #

  4. There’s a heavy response of fire trucks and police cruisers creating a perimeter. Doesn’t appear to be much action, but there are plenty of people on hand at a safe distance. It makes traveling through a little slow, but not terrible, all things considered.

    Comment by KatieL — 6:06 pm June 24, 2013 #

  5. Thank you WSB, I’m seeing it out the window and went to your site. You guys have superman response to news! Fingers crossed its not something BAD going on. Kinda scary. Alot scary.

    Comment by Babs — 6:06 pm June 24, 2013 #

  6. Thanks for the info! I can see and hear two helicopters from my backyard. Hopefully I am not within range of the hazardous fumes.

    Comment by Greta — 6:08 pm June 24, 2013 #

  7. just saw on ch 4 “breaking news”; but I couldn’t tell from the aerial view where it was; thanks for clarifying; wonder if it will affect bus routes up Avalon

    Comment by Diane — 6:08 pm June 24, 2013 #

  8. Helicopters?!?!? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:09 pm June 24, 2013 #

  9. Are they evacuating homes? We are two blocks away, but we have friends doors away.

    Comment by NorDel — 6:10 pm June 24, 2013 #

  10. Thanks for your lightning fast updates WSB. When I heard the helicopters, I knew I would find out what was going on from your site!

    Comment by Lisa — 6:10 pm June 24, 2013 #

  11. I have to pick up my sister at the rapid ride stop on bradford. Is that blocked off too?

    Comment by bob — 6:11 pm June 24, 2013 #

  12. I live about a block up Avalon from the church and had firetrucks parked as close as next door to me. So glad it’s not more serious. Thanks for the info, guys!

    Comment by Kelsie — 6:32 pm June 24, 2013 #

  13. I hope it’s not a meth house…

    Comment by nativetoseattle — 6:34 pm June 24, 2013 #

  14. I cam up that way around 4 or5 and smelled some very foul air outside the car as I passed the steel mill on Avalon

    Comment by Todd — 6:46 pm June 24, 2013 #

  15. We have brown water at 30th and Adams. Is this related?

    Comment by Lewis — 6:57 pm June 24, 2013 #

  16. They had hoses out, so it could be. Although they have officially declared they found no trace of hazardous atmosphere and the response is being pulled back.

    Comment by WSB — 6:59 pm June 24, 2013 #

  17. Please don’t apologize for the server being down momentarily! You guys are just phenomenal.

    Comment by elisabeth — 7:33 pm June 24, 2013 #

  18. Has the city given the squatters $500K to move out yet?

    Comment by DTK — 8:06 pm June 24, 2013 #

  19. +1 to phenom WSB.

    Comment by MMB — 8:42 pm June 24, 2013 #

  20. That building was once a church? Wow!!

    Comment by Last53BusRider — 8:50 pm June 24, 2013 #

  21. It’s hard to believe anyone would want to squat in a building that’s so obviously haunted.

    Comment by Alex — 8:53 pm June 24, 2013 #

  22. I have passed that building a thousand times, and only having lived in West Seattle for a few years I have no idea what is used to be. Looked like an old Denny’s kind of place. Any long time residents know about that building? Place gives me the creeps.

    Comment by admiral73 — 9:18 pm June 24, 2013 #

  23. Brown water at our house near Adams street too!

    Comment by Westie — 9:31 pm June 24, 2013 #

  24. Who owns the property now? Also what is scheduled to happen to the building and the lot?

    Comment by coffee — 10:04 pm June 24, 2013 #

  25. Coffee – property record here:
    .
    http://info.kingcounty.gov/Assessor/eRealProperty/Detail.aspx?ParcelNbr=9297300710
    .
    No pending permits or applications. So whomever owns it (sort of hard to tell from the record) is just holding it, it appears.

    Comment by WSB — 10:25 pm June 24, 2013 #

  26. Wonder what’s cooking in those RV’s parked down there by the mill.

    Comment by Anonymous — 6:19 am June 25, 2013 #

  27. Living in West Seattle for a few years and passed by the building a thousand times? The math escapes me.

    Comment by 56bricks — 7:13 am June 25, 2013 #

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