West Seattle, Washington
2:02 AM: First crews arriving say it’s a fully engulfed 2-story house and they’re calling a second alarm. Side note – this is a difficult area to reach, up a hillside dead-end. It’s close to our HQ … but there are dead-ends here on top of the hill too.
2:14 AM: Via scanner, scene commander reports most of the fire has been “knocked down” – and she is referring to the dead-end street as she instructs some of the extra units on where to locate. No report of any injuries; the initial report of this mentioned that the residents were evacuating.
2:21 AM: Added a photo just sent by our crew. SFD is canceling most of the second-alarm units.
2:29 AM: SFD is reporting that the last spots of fire were in the attic – our crew confirms that firefighters are aiming water that way right now – and the fire’s just been declared “tapped.”
2:53 AM: We’ve talked to the SFD public-information officer on scene. (video added)
Both people who were home got out OK; no injuries to anyone. They got their two cats out OK too.
3:26 AM: They’re continuing to dismiss crews from the scene, but at least one will remain, on “fire watch” as is usually the case at sizable fire scenes, for some hours to come.
Two reports in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight:
EARLY MORNING ALLEY ARSON: Thanks to Patrick for the photo and tip that an early-morning fire callout near California/Raymond was arson.
We confirmed that tonight with SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley, who tells WSB via an e-mail response, “Investigators confirmed two recycle bins and one garbage bin were set on fire, along with two rolls of toilet paper inside a porta potty. These all occurred in an alleyway. Total estimated loss for all bins combined is $500. Case referred to SPD for followup.” Earlier in the morning, SFD responded to a dumpster fire at Westwood Village but Tinsley says that was not believed to be related.
WINDOW WARNING: From Lindsay, reporting a burglary in the Highland Park area last night:
The burglars got in the house via a semi=open window that was accidentally left open. With the weather so hot, I thought it might be good if you could broadcast a PSA reminding folks that burglars look for open windows and doors. I would really hate for anyone else to be affected in this way.
7:50 PM: SFD sent a full response to the 4100 block of 25th SW but it’s a dryer fire and it’s out, per radio communication. We are on the way to verify.
7:58 PM: Firefighters at the scene took the smoldering dryer out of the house, they told us, adding that no one was hurt and that they are using a fan to clear smoke from the house.
The man who police say told them he started a fire in his West Seattle Junction apartment Sunday morning is now charged. One count of first-degree reckless burning was filed today against 31-year-old Andrew D. Morales, and his bail was raised to $125,000, half what prosecutors requested. In the charging document, they note, “Although the defendant has no apparent Washington criminal history, he has a notable arrest and conviction history in New Jersey, including felony convictions in 2007 for Felony Aggravated Assault on Law Enforcement and Felony Possession CDS /Analog – Schedule I, II, III.” (In NJ law, CDS = Controlled Dangerous Substance.) Otherwise, the charging document has the same narrative we reported after Morales’s bail hearing Monday, that he told firefighters and police he had set the fire because there were “snipers” in his apartment and that he believed doing so had saved others from them.
A judge has set bail at $100,000 for the 31-year-old man arrested Sunday for allegedly setting his West Seattle Junction apartment on fire. We covered the fire at the Elan 41 complex at Jefferson Square early yesterday morning; later in the day, police announced they had arrested the resident of the apartment where the fire started. According to probable-cause documents used at this afternoon’s bail hearing, the man first told firefighters that he started the fire because, the report says, “there had been snipers in his apartment and they were shooting at him; to defend himself, he grabbed a bottle of acetone, threw it at them, and lit it on fire.” He then ran out, he is reported to have explained, but came back for his dog. After police arrested him, the report says, officers asked him why he started the fire; they say, “He changed the subject and wanted to know who the person was in the back of the patrol car.” The officer wrote that he advised the suspect he couldn’t see that person; “this made him upset.” The suspect then repeated what he had told SFD, adding, according to the police report, “he had saved people because the snipers would have killed them all.” The only prior arrest we can find for him was a misdemeanor assault case a year and a half ago, dismissed because there was “no prosecuting witness.” Not much information is available about that case but we do note his address was listed as the same apartment. One person was hurt in the fire, an SFD lieutenant who suffered minor injuries.
1:22 AM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is headed to the 4700 block of 42nd SW. SFD says the initial report is “light smoke in an apartment building. More to come.
1:25 AM: The address has been updated to 4100 SW Edmunds, the Elan 41 apartments at Jefferson Square. Firefighters on scene are reporting “heavy black smoke” from one side of the building.
1:28 AM: Per scanner – we’re still on the way – flames visible from the second floor.
1:33 AM: Added photo sent by David. SFD crews report fire “knocked down.” SFD reports its first search of the “fire floor and floor above” are “all clear.”
1:36 AM: SFD now reports the fire “under control.” (added) Also from radio communication – one firefighter is reported to have minor injuries.
1:41 AM: Our crew just arrived – adding photo of one of two ladder trucks on scene. This is in the section of the apartments that’s over the east side of Jefferson Square businesses.
1:56 AM: Fire now reported “tapped.” No other injuries reported so far. Our crew says the injured firefighter is a lieutenant who’s been treated by medics and will be OK. The firefighting itself is ramping down but now crews are checking into possible water problems elsewhere in the complex.
2:10 AM: SFD tells us on scene that the residents of the apartment where the fire started were not home at the time. They’re checking adjacent apartments for extension/damage. Also, the injured lieutenant will be checked out at Harborview. A pipe break is reported to be contributing to water problems elsewhere at Jefferson Square, including the parking garage and animal hospital.
2:33 AM: They’re continuing to mop up that water. Some SFD units, meantime, have been dismissed.
3:02 AM: No word yet on the fire’s cause.
10:50 AM: Via Twitter, SFD says the fire was “intentionally set” and that police are investigating. Damage is estimated at $120,000.
1:50 PM: SPD just announced that a resident of the apartment was arrested for investigation of arson after saying he started the fire.
(Added: Video sent by Lemuel Charleston)
8:28 PM: If you’re seeing smoke and/or hearing sirens – Seattle Fire has a callout for a brush fire reported in the 59th/Spokane vicinity.
8:45 PM: Photo added (thanks @SeaSK). Two of the five units dispatched have been dismissed from the call.
8:52 PM: The remaining units have been dismissed and the call is closed.
9:36 PM: Thanks to Lemuel Charleston for sending video – added above – showing the reason for the initially sizable dispatch – the fire was perilously close to a house.
Here’s what most of the aftermath of last night’s 2-alarm fire at 3633 East Marginal Way S. (we confirmed the correct address at the scene today) consists of – burned cars.
The fire was primarily around the back side of the warehouse property; SFD describes the affected area as a “warehouse repair garage” and “wrecking yard.” The cars – and what’s still in them – are the main reason it sent so much thick, dark smoke into the sky. No injuries reported.
7:15 PM: The fire generating that smoke is a building in the 3600 block of E Marginal Way, not in WS. [map] Seattle Fire is going defensive on it – too dangerous to do otherwise. Per scanner, it includes ‘two metal structures, fully involved’ with propane tanks nearby.
7:27 PM: SFD has called a 2nd alarm. We just crossed the bridge and got this view:
Avoid the bridge if you can- very smoky. The fire is still spreading per scanner and you’ll want to stay far from E. Marginal too.
7:38 PM: No injuries reported, SFD says. They describe it as a “warehouse fire”; the address checks to a “private event space.”
7:43 PM: SFD is calling a third alarm. We are going back over the bridge.
7:46 PM: Third alarm canceled. Some vehicles reported to be on fire.
From the viaduct pic.twitter.com/YvTqYel7Z9
— sareana ✨ (@Sareanaaxo) July 5, 2018
(Tweeted by Sareana)
8:06 PM: SFD is reporting progress knocking down the fire but also still calling for more reinforcements. Meantime, thanks for all the photos – we’ve just returned to HQ (we were out in the Alki area checking on the holiday scene when this broke out) and are catching up while monitoring this via scanner. Also, as we noted in a comment, we apologize that our image-upload-in-comment feature is not fixed yet, so even if it looks to you like it’s uploaded, it’s not showing – photos are always welcome at email@example.com.
8:41 PM: Still fighting the fire, and reporting progress – “well under control” is how it’s been described over SFD radio.
9:02 PM: Checked the traffic cams. Smoke over the West Seattle Bridge appears to have dissipated. On the surface, E. Marginal is still blocked at Spokane:
That’s a “live” SDOT cam view.
9:18 PM: Some units are being dismissed. SFD has tweeted photos including this one:
The tweet says the fire “has been contained to one building. Firefighters will remain on scene through the night working on spot fires.”
That’s a state Ecology Department photo, taken today, of the barge that burned on the east side of the Duwamish River last night (WSB coverage here). Ecology says the barge was boomed as a precaution but no oil sheen was detected, no “distressed wildlife,” just a “small amount of firefighting foam at tideline.” The U.S. Coast Guard lifted its half-mile “safety zone” early this morning. As for the fire, seen far and wide, we asked Seattle Fire for an update this afternoon:
SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley replied that the fire was ruled “accidental” and damage is estimated at $1 million, adding: “Firefighters remained on scene until noon today to ensure the fire was extinguished.”
11:46 AM: Thanks for the tips. Iniially sizable Seattle Fire callout to the 3500 block of Beach Drive SW for a possible house fire has been downsized to two units already, but we are en route to see what we can find out.
11:55 AM: “Small kitchen fire” is how SFD describes what happened.
7:12 PM: Two Seattle Fire calls in south West Seattle right now – a brush fire has been working in the 10200 block of Marine View Drive for more than an hour and a half, and a car fire with “exposure” to a nearby building is working in the 9200 block of 24th SW. We’re out checking on both.
7:27 PM: Here’s the car-fire scene:
Minor damage to the garage. No injuries reported.
7:40 PM: The brush-fire call closed before we were able to get to the area to check it out.
8:51 PM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is headed to the 2200 block of Sunset Avenue SW [map] in North Admiral for a possible house fire. More to come.
8:55 PM: SFD says it’s a dryer fire and is canceling most of the responding units.
9:10 PM: WSB’s Christopher Boffoli has confirmed that at the scene and says the remaining SFD crews are just helping clear out smoke.
5:23 PM: Firefighters have made quick work of what’s described as a “car fire near a structure under construction” in the 4500 block of 23rd SW [map of vicinity]. We’re on our way to check it out.
5:37 PM: At the scene. Added photo of the vehicle that caught fire.
5:40 PM: Our crew is told the vehicle caught fire after crashing into the under-construction building, which is just south of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. The driver took off and is not yet in custody.
7:25 PM: The vehicle’s been towed and police have left the scene. We checked the area just as they were departing – and shortly thereafter found ourselves behind the tow truck taking the vehicle away:
The tow driver had paused (for reasons unknown). And a P.S. – as mentioned in comments, “Avalon Tom” caught some video that shows the thick dark smoke that briefly called this fire to many people’s attention:
We’ll be following up on this post-holiday.
9:54 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a full response to a reported fire “in a house being remodeled” at 39th/Bradford, near the Charlestown water tower. More to come.
9:57 PM: The response is being scaled down – it’s described via scanner as a “small fire … in mechanical equipment” on the second floor.
10:01 PM: SFD has corrected the address – it’s in the 3800 block of 40th SW.
10:04 PM: The fire is reported to be out and firefighters have confirmed the home is “unoccupied.”
10:28 PM: SFD has closed out the call, less than 40 minutes after dispatch.
We’ve been checking daily to see if the Medical Examiner had officially identified the man found dead in a house at 42nd/Findlay last Friday after it erupted in flames while King County Sheriff’s Office SWAT officers were trying to serve an eviction notice (WSB coverage here). This afternoon, an update from KCSO answers multiple questions in the case:
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the deceased as David M. Severtson, 51 and determined his death to be suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Members of Tac-30, a Hostage Negotiator, and a Mental Health Professional spent considerable time attempting to establish contact with Severtson while outside the home on the morning of May 11, 2018.
When Severtson did not respond to multiple requests to exit voluntarily, a Tac-30 team approached the front door and noted that flames were spreading rapidly inside the home. No shots were fired by KCSO personnel.
A Seattle Fire Department investigator concluded Severtson started the fire, using gasoline, near the front door.
After the fire was out, and when it was safe for Tac-30 and KCSO Major Crimes detectives to enter the house, they discovered loaded rifles propped near several windows of the home. There were also numerous rounds of ammunition of various calibers. In all, nearly 20 rifles, ranging in caliber from .22 to .308, were recovered.
KCSO was aware of the possibility that a number of guns were inside the home, which factored in to the decision that Tac-30 (SWAT) would assist the KCSO Civil Detectives with the eviction. The operation followed repeated attempts, since January 2018, to reach Severtson about the court’s eviction order. Letters were sent to the home, notices were posted at the home, and Detectives made several personal visits. Severtson failed to respond to any of the attempts to reach him.
Severtson’s mother had owned the house until her death three years ago. Her estate originally filed the eviction action more than a year before the officers showed up Friday to serve it.
11:13 AM: Thanks for the tips. There’s both a full-response Seattle Fire Department turnout and what appears to be a SWAT callout near 42nd SW and SW Findlay. Avoid the area. We are on our way to find out more.
11:16 AM: Our crew headed north to the scene can see black smoke and flames even from some distance away.
The King County Sheriff’s Office confirms it’s their SWAT team and is sending a public-information officer. You’ll see/hear at least one TV helicopter in the area shortly.
11:22 AM: Also avoid California in that area, as it’s blocked off and more SFD equipment is on the way. This house is right on Findlay – our crew, just arrived, says it’s the one at the southwest corner of 42nd and Findlay that you might know for the old vehicles parked outside.
Here’s what Rasmus Rasmussen recorded a short time ago:
— Rasmus Rasmussen (@theprint) May 11, 2018
(Video courtesy Rasmus Rasmussen, who narrates)
11:34 AM: SFD has just upsized this to a two-alarm fire. They also have a public-information officer at the scene so we should find out more soon. The sheriff’s SWAT arrival preceded the fire – we had just been getting tips about it and were starting to head that way when we got word of the fire callout.
(Video courtesy Bruce Butterfield)
11:47 AM: Commenter says at least one citywide reported this had to do with the eviction. KCSO is the agency accountable for those, though not usually with SWAT teams. We cross-referenced court records and have found documents confirming that today was the deadline for a person whose address was shown at that house to get out; the action was filed by the estate of the owner, apparently a relative. Researching more. Again, avoid California/Findlay/42nd – California is blocked north to Brandon.
NOON: There’s also a power outage in the area – wires are down because of the fire. Not on the City Light map so far.
12:15 PM: Now the outage is mapped – 1,595 homes/businesses.
Meantime, the fire is mostly out. (added) We just talked to SFD. They say the fire started in the basement and spread to the rest of the house. They also say KCSO had warned them there might be ammunition in the house. Since the fire is mostly out, they and SWAT will be going in soon to find out if anyone was inside.
12:30 PM: Here’s what KCSO just told WSB’s Christopher Boffoli: The SWAT team was there to try to evict the resident because 24 firearms were registered to the residence. They did NOT fire any shots nor use any incendiary devices. Neighbors hadn’t seen the resident – the son of the house’s now-deceased owner – since December. He was to be evicted because the house was to be sold. Officers had tried to get in by piercing the screen door, and KCSO says that’s when they realized the house was on fire. They don’t know yet if the man, in his 50s, was inside. (added) SFD meantime tells us the fire went to a second alarm not because of its size but because it was a complicated situation.
12:55 PM: KCSO is gearing up with breathing masks to go inside the house. They also tell us that there was some indication the 51-year-old man had mental-health challenges, so they had brought a mental-health professional with them when they arrived to try the eviction.
1:13 PM: KCSO confirms a body has been found. Meantime, we’re continuing to read the court documents associated with the eviction case. The 51-year-old son of the owner was originally ordered to leave more than a year ago – April 30, 2017. Also: A drone will be used at the scene soon to “evaluate for hazards,” according to scanner traffic.
1:59 PM: The Sheriff’s Office also says that it won’t be the one to confirm whether the body is that of the house’s resident and eviction target; that will be up to the Medical Examiner. KCSO is saying only that the dead person is a man. They will remain on scene investigating, with help from SFD and SPD.
2:18 PM: California is back open. The power is back on in the area, too. Those, we have verified in person; via scanner, we hear that authorities have set up a “hot zone” around the house while continuing to investigate what’s inside it. Also, added above the 12:30 pm update is Christopher’s video of the briefing given at that time. (added) KCSO says via Twitter that “an explosive device was located inside the house,” therefore the extra caution.
2:52 PM: An update from KCSO – never mind, it was NOT an explosive device:
UPDATE#2 There is NO EXPLOSIVE device in the residence. On further exam, BDU personnel were able to determine the device they found was not explosive. They are continuing to search the house at this point with machines until they are sure it is safe for Deputies to go in.
— KingcosoPIO (@kingcosoPIO) May 11, 2018
3:15 PM: Elaborating at the scene, KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Jason Houck says the alleged “device” turned out to be a CD case with a bunch of wires. Meantime, as the investigation will continue for some hours, side streets in the area including SW Findlay will remain closed TFN.
4:01 PM: No further updates. KCSO and SFD were downsizing the scene at last report; we’ll be going back over in about half an hour to check on the status of things. Meantime, some lingering after-effects of the earlier power outage – West Seattle Nursery, at California/Brandon, says its phones and registers are continuing to have some trouble so while they’re open, you might consider waiting until tomorrow instead of visiting today.
6:31 PM: Stopped back at the scene a while ago. Findlay is open; 42nd was still blocked. Firefighters are still on site:
Below those two, the burned house was partly visible through the shrubbery along Findlay:
The old vehicles, still parked along the alley, apparently undamaged.
ADDED SATURDAY: We received this photo from Dan, who says this is some of what KCSO brought out of the house Friday night:
We’re reaching out to KCSO with followup questions, though we might not hear back until Monday.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: We did just hear back from KCSO Sgt. Houck – but he says reports with the full tally of what was found won’t be available until Monday.
Just so you know what that short-lived Seattle Fire “full response” at 37th/Alaska was about – turned out to be a dryer fire in the Link Apartments building, per SFD, and most of the crews have been canceled.
3:50 AM: You might be hearing the sirens, especially from southeast West Seattle: Seattle Fire is at the scene of a fully involved house fire in the 9300 block of 7th Avenue South, less than two hours after another South Park house fire, in the 1200 block of S. Cloverdale (less than a mile apart).
4:03 AM: Per monitored radio communication, SFD has just called the 7th Avenue S. fire “defensive” – too dangerous to be inside the structure.
12:55 AM: Seattle Fire has sent a midsize fire response to the 900 block of SW Holden after a caller reported some kind of possible fire across the street from their home, according to radio communications. So far, the units on scene aren’t seeing anything. We’re monitoring.
1:10 AM: Nothing found – SFD has left and the call is closed.
Thanks to Andy for the video – firefighters made quick work of that car fire in the Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor) parking lot a short time ago. No injuries reported; no word on the cause, but the owner was found relatively fast, according to what we heard on the scanner.
10:45 PM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is arriving at Delridge Way SW/23rd SW after a report of a possible house fire. More to come.
10:51 PM: We aren’t on scene yet to see for sure but what’s being described on the scanner sounds like the long-long-long-vacant house at 3804 23rd SW. SFD reports no smoke/flames but “signs of charring.”
10:55 PM: Some units are being dismissed while SFD is continuing to investigate.
11:10 PM: The call closed and all responders departed before our crew arrived. (added) A nearby resident said via Twitter that SFD pulled out a smoldering item that looked like a trash can.
10:24 PM: Seattle Fire has sent a “full response” to a house in the 5900 block of 47th SW [map]. They are describing it as a “kitchen fire” and also saying there’s heavy smoke from the front door. More to come.
10:31 PM: Firefighters are still searching the house to make sure everyone got out OK. The fire has been declared “under control” and they’re checking to be sure it hasn’t spread.
10:39 PM: Firefighters believe the fire is confined to the main floor of the house – they’ve checked the basement and attic to be sure.
10:56 PM: At the scene, we are told the fire’s out and under investigation. No one hurt; everyone got out OK.
SATURDAY, 11:14 AM: SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley tells WSB that the fire was caused by “unattended food on the stove, ruled accidental … estimated loss is $150,000 to structure and $50,000 to contents.”