Update: Rooftop fire in 3700 block of California SW

10:50 PM: Big fire call to the 3700 block of California SW – but it’s being scaled back because it’s now believed to be a fire pit on a building roof.

10:53 PM: Now they’re raising the call back to a full response after all. And they’re calling for police to block northbound traffic.

(Reader photo)
It’s described as a rooftop fire, about a 12 x 12 section of wooden deck, and under control.

(This photo and next two, by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
11:13 PM: Our crews at the scene say the four-story mixed-use building – residential over ground-floor commercial – was evacuated.

But firefighters are reiterating via radio that the fire was confined to wooden decking over a section of roof and is tapped.

11:18 PM: We just talked to the incident commander, who said the residents will be allowed back in within the hour.

23 Replies to "Update: Rooftop fire in 3700 block of California SW"

  • JanS July 12, 2014 (11:02 pm)

    from the picture it looks like one really, really big firepit …wow….hope it’s nothing too serious

  • NW July 12, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    Let me just state my opinion here that having a fire pit in the back yard and especially on the roof is one of the stupidest and unfortunately popular things for people to be doing in a high density residential area like this and temps low humidity like it is. Wake up people!

  • Katherine July 12, 2014 (11:08 pm)

    This is behind our house, thanks for the info

  • me July 12, 2014 (11:46 pm)

    How did the fire start?

  • me July 13, 2014 (12:03 am)

    I live in the building. I just overheard the firemen talking to our neighbor.

    He said that someone intentionally started this fire and that if it would have been called in just ten minutes later the whole roof would have been on fire.

    • WSB July 13, 2014 (12:07 am)

      Are police there? If it were suspected as arson, police would be investigating and would call in the arson/bomb squad. One of our crews also was told it had something to do with a barbecue or pit type fire. What is usually up on the deck?

  • me July 13, 2014 (12:14 am)

    No, another neighbor at first thought it was just a fire pit but it wasn’t, the plants and things on the deck were on fire.

    The police are not here now. How can we find out what’s going on?

    • WSB July 13, 2014 (12:20 am)

      The best advice I can give you at the moment is to find the ranking fire person on scene and ask them directly. Whatever you overheard could be misinterpreted – you would want to ask a firefighter directly if this is being investigated as arson or accidental. There is a fire department official who goes by Marshal 5 that is the official fire investigator. If s/he is still on site, they’re still investigating.

  • me July 13, 2014 (12:20 am)

    Okay, thanks! I just talked to them and it turns out I did overhear wrong, the fire was most likely not intentional but accidental.

  • Apt resident July 13, 2014 (12:49 am)

    I live in the building & spoke with a firefighter. He said a fire was started on the rooftop on top of an island (not a fire pit) with the intention of having a small “bonfire” & it got out of control. 10 more minutes & we wouldn’t have been so lucky. We’re all back inside now.

  • wssz July 13, 2014 (1:58 am)

    Wow… completely terrifying. So glad for everyone’s sake that it didn’t become something larger.

  • wait a sec July 13, 2014 (4:49 am)

    Isn’t there a state-wide burn ban in effect? Am I making that up???

    • WSB July 13, 2014 (8:08 am)

      No burn ban.

  • wait a sec July 13, 2014 (8:39 am)

    Hmmm, ok. Thanks. I must have mis-heard the radio announcement yesterday I guess. It’s for DNR land only…? Earlier in the day I was passing the NB 99 on-ramp in South Park full of firs and tall grasses. I had to call in a brush fire. It is soooo dry. It was rather terrifying but the fire department got there within a few minutes. Never seen a fire like that – spread so fast. From a smoldering bunch of grass to a big conifer exploding and igniting into acrid, black smoke within a minute or so.

    So, anyway. Be careful just the same all.

    • WSB July 13, 2014 (8:40 am)

      You can always check at http://pscleanair.org which will list air-quality bans and which links to the authorities for local safety bans, such as the King County Fire Marshal.

  • ocean July 13, 2014 (11:09 am)


    Could you add the link to
    on the weather page?

    Thanks! = )

  • payrollgirl July 13, 2014 (1:35 pm)

    Having a small bonfire in upper 80’s low 90 degree weather???!!!

    Can you say STUPID and WHY?!

  • Questioning July 13, 2014 (2:07 pm)

    If you can’t figure out why people might have a bonfire in the summer (hint: summer bonfires are not for warmth despite the fact that it was around 53 degrees at 10:30 last night) maybe you shouldn’t be calling other people stupid, payroll girl.
    The photo of the middle aged woman looking wistfully at the gaggle of hotties is funny.

  • carole July 13, 2014 (5:12 pm)

    Questioning: Begs the question, did the tenants have permission to be on the roof, let alone light a fire? That roof appears to have no protective railing. Is it for tenant use?

  • wetone July 14, 2014 (10:49 am)

    Add this to the list for West Seattle’s Darwin Award of the year. 53* must of had the ac cranked up.

  • Apt Resident July 14, 2014 (2:58 pm)

    @Carole, there is a rooftop deck that is a private deck for one specific resident in the building, and they are the only people who are “allowed” to access it. However, the rooftop does not have restricted access, so anyone who has access to the building could have gone up there. The roof is recessed down, so the edge of the building you see is not the “floor” and it’s like a short wall, if that makes sense. Still no official word on what/who started the fire, but hope they can figure it out. I’m just thankful the fire dept got there as quickly as they did and we were all able to return to our homes unharmed.

    • WSB July 14, 2014 (3:01 pm)

      I’m following up and will add anything else I get from SFD.

    • WSB July 15, 2014 (11:14 am)

      The official word from SFD is that a barbecue caused the fire, it burned a 10 x 10 hole in the decking, and damage is estimated at $5,000.

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