(UPDATED FRIDAY NIGHT with fire’s cause, more fundraisers)
(Photo from this morning, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
ORIGINAL 1:10 PM REPORT: No announcement yet from Seattle Fire regarding what caused the 2-alarm, 3-house fire in the Pelly Place area southwest of Morgan Junction on Thursday afternoon. We went back this morning, and the investigation was still under way. If that information emerges today, we’ll add it to this followup.
7:45 PM UPDATE: SFD announced the cause this evening: “Improperly installed heater on a back porch.” Damage estimate for all three houses and their contents: $2.7 million. (That same link is to the SFD story including more details on the firefight.)
Two other updates:
HOW YOU CAN HELP: So many people have asked how they can help the fire victims. Today, two crowdfunding campaigns have emerged, one for each of two households affected – the links are here and here. We know others are working on finding out if the affected families have any immediate material needs, and we will update.
(7:45 pm update) Three Morgan Junction food/beverage establishments – Peel & Press, The Bridge, Beveridge Place Pub – will be donating a percentage of proceeds on Tuesday, according to Dan from P & P.
(9:36 pm update) Another fund has just been set up for the third family involved.
ABOUT THE WATER SUPPLY: In discussions both here on WSB and on the WSB Facebook page, concerns have arisen about reports that firefighters apparently had some initial challenges. Here’s what we’ve found out so far.
(This photo and next: Thursday photos by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli)
SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore tells WSB:
Because we had multiple hose lines running off one hydrant, we asked SPU to boost water pressure on the Fauntleroy hydrant. When we have a multi-alarm fire, its standard procedure for SPU to respond to monitor water pressure. An example was the Christmas Eve multi-alarm fire in the International District 2 years ago when SPU made sure we had enough water pressure to charge multiple hose lines.
It was a long hose lay and we had 2 engines maintaining water pressure. It’s called relay pumping. Firefighters train on this type of pumping.
The hydrants are actually owned/maintained by Seattle Public Utilities, so we are following up with them as well. You might recall the hydrant issues that followed the 2011 Arbor Heights house fire – new hydrants and lines were installed in parts of AH; then in 2013, there was another round of hydrant discussion, including a map of remaining lower-flow hydrants in West Seattle. You can also check the location of hydrants (or at least the proximity) near your residence by zooming in via the city’s MyNeighborhood map.
ADDED 2:45 PM: SPU has sent these responses to our questions, which included an invitation to include any other information that might help people understand how the system works:
1. How far apart are hydrants spaced in the City of Seattle?
Most hydrants are spaced between 300 and 500 feet apart. The closest hydrant in yesterday’s fire was 400 feet away.
2. What is the standard size for a fire hydrant?
Standard-sized hydrants range from 5 to 6 inches in diameter.
3. Is there a standard sized water main for residential areas?
Water mains that are eight inches in diameter are the standard size for new development in residential areas. The nearby water mains in yesterday’s fire were 8-inches and 16-inches in diameter.
4. Were there any low-flow hydrants in the area?
5. Is there a performance level for fire flow?
For single-family, residential homes, spacing and flow performance developed in partnership with the Seattle Fire Department include:
• Minimum fire flow at hydrants of 1,000 gallons per minute
• Hydrants within 1,000 feet of fire hose length from any home
6. What can you say about the performance of the water system in yesterday’s fire?
While we are still reviewing, our initial indication is that the water system operated as expected and there is no indication of restrictions in water flow. The water mains and hydrants in this area meet hydrant spacing and flow performance developed in partnership between Seattle Public Utilities and the Seattle Fire Department.
7. Why were Seattle Public Utilities water crew called to respond to the fire?
It is standard practice for SPU crews to respond to large fires. They are available to support the fire department and operate the water system if additional water flow can be achieved. They also act as a liaison between Fire and SPU’s Water Control Center.