West Seattle, Washington
2:30 PM: Seattle Fire has sent a big response for a possible house fire near Charlestown/38th SW. Updates to come.
2:33 PM: SFD crews report it’s a “small contents fire” inside the house. They’re handling the aftermath, including ventilation. No injuries reported.
2:40 PM: Our crew is on scene – near the Charlestown water tower – and reports that what caught fire was a piece of foam rubber in the garage. The damage is limited to that foam rubber. The response is winding down.
(Photo courtesy Mel)
12:00 PM: Thanks to the texter who sent the photo from a car fire that Seattle Fire crews are currently fighting in the 9000 block of 14th SW. It’s a fire with potential exposure to the adjacent house, and that’s why the response is larger. Updates to come.
(Photo courtesy DRW)
12:06 PM: SFD says it was a motor-home fire in a driveway (reader photo added). It’s out, and the cause is under investigation.
12:40 PM: Just went by. The investigator is still on scene. We confirmed that no one was hurt.
4:34 PM: SFD spokesperson Corey Orvold tells WSB the cause hasn’t been determined yet, but damage to the vehicle and its contents totaled $1,200.
ADDED MONDAY NIGHT: We received the clip above via text. We’ll be checking again Tuesday on whether SFD figured out how the fire started.
2:44 PM: It’s reported to be in a detached garage on an alley, and under control.
2:50 PM: Firefighters had to break through a door to get into the garage. We don’t know yet what in there was burning. No report of any injuries.
3 PM: One car is in the garage; firefighters have had to ventilate the roof too, and smoke is still coming out.
We don’t know yet how the fire started.
3:18 PM: The response at the scene is beginning to be downsized. Meantime, our crew is back and we’re adding/substituting photos above.
ADDED MONDAY AFTERNOON: We checked today with SFD spokesperson Corey Orvold regarding the cause. She says it was accidental, sparked by fireplace ashes “placed in the garage.”
12:09 PM: Seattle Fire has sent a major “fire in building” response to the 3800 block of Beach Drive SW. Updates to come.
12:15 PM: It’s a four-story multifamily building, and that’s the reason for the big response, but so far, per scanner, no sign of a fire – aside from one in a fireplace (added: Christmas tree was being burned). The response is being downsized.
(UPDATED NOON WEDNESDAY – scroll down)
(Photo courtesy Jim)
8:43 PM: A big Seattle Fire response is on the way to the 1300 block of SW Spokane [map], where a boat is reported to be on fire at an address that crossreferences to Jim Clark Marina. More to come.
8:57 PM: Avoid the area – SFD has even asked for the railroad track to be closed by BNSF.
(This photo and those below are by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli, added 10:28 pm)
They’ve had to lay hundreds of feet of hose to get to the burning boat(s), according to scanner traffic.
9:04 PM: The fire is reported to be under control. No word of any injuries. Our archives show it’s been five years since the last major fire at this marina.
9:18 PM: Media crews at the scene, including ours, are being kept behind a safety line; via the scanner, we’re hearing fire crews dealing with dock-safety issues too, and also a “small” flareup on the boat, which, a marina tenant told our photographer, is a 32-footer. We’re told Seattle Fire’s public-information officer is on the way.
9:36 PM: Two vessels are reported (monitored via scanner) to be “a complete loss.”
9:44 PM: The loss of two boats has just been confirmed at the scene by SFD, in a media briefing. (video added, with SFD spokesperson Corey Orvold)
(WSB video by Patrick Sand)
A third boat was damaged. Investigators are on the way to find out how the fire started; the Coast Guard and EPA also are en route to check on whether there’s been a fuel spill or any other environmental effects.
The dock will remain closed tonight, so other boat owners thinking of coming down to check on their boats won’t be able to reach them.
10:21 PM: SFD has just tweeted that the two boats that burned have sunk and that two others were damaged.
ADDED EARLY WEDNESDAY: More views of the fire and how it was fought, on the Duwamish and on the shore. The two photos below are by Aaron Bocchetti, the video by Michelle Edwards.
No announcement yet of how it started.
WEDNESDAY NOON UPDATE: SFD’s Orvold tells us there’s still no word on the cause: “The fire investigators are working with the marina’s owner to bring the boats to the surface so they can further their investigation. This process could take a while.” We were at the marina around 10:30 am and noticed a USCG helicopter circling to inspect the scene from above.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 30, 2015
Some damage to the boathouse is visible. See this comment below for more information on one of the damaged boats.
12:26 PM: SFD reports that two people are hurt and that the fire is under control.
12:35 PM: Because of the sizable response, Delridge Way is closed for at least a block, between Brandon and Findlay, as Andrew points out in comments and as confirmed by our crew at the scene.
12:50 PM: If you’re seeing/hearing a helicopter in the area, it’s just TV checking this out.
1:12 PM: SFD has just briefed the media on scene, saying one person has gone to Harborview with serious burns; the fire was limited to a mattress in that person’s apartment on the
top second floor and the building’s sprinkler system put it out.
The other injured person did not need hospitalization. The Fire Department also says one person was found dead in a nearby apartment, and apparently had died within the past few hours, but that is not believed to have been related to the fire.
2:10 PM: Delridge had reopened and SFD’s fire investigator was on scene when we passed through about 15 minutes ago. We’ll update when there’s official word on the fire’s cause. Though the flames hadn’t spread beyond the aforementioned mattress, SFD says three units had significant damage because of the water from the sprinkler system.
2:50 PM: We’ve added more photos as well as the unedited video of SFD Lt. Sue Stangl‘s earlier briefing.
4:43 PM: If you are in the area and wondering about a new multi-unit response at the building, the 911 log shows it’s an “automatic fire alarm” response.
ADDED EARLY THURSDAY: The Seattle Times reports that the man hospitalized after this fire has died. The County Medical Examiner’s daily media recording lists the death of the 39-year-old burn victim mentioned in the Times’ report but does not specify a location, so we’ll be verifying later this morning. We had checked with SFD on Wednesday to ask about any official ruling on the fire’s cause; not yet, they told us.
4:49 PM: The big response at Arrowhead Gardens in the 9200 block of 2nd SW is for a fire in the trash compactor, according to Seattle Fire. It’s under control, according to the scanner, which also has a mention of “light” smoke in hallways on at least three floors.
5:04 PM: The fire is reported “tapped.” No word of any injuries. Firefighters are working to clear the aforementioned smoke.
5:14 PM: Our crew at the scene says firefighters appear to be ramping down. SFD units are in parking lots on both sides of the building but this isn’t affecting traffic going by on the roads past the complex.
5:24 PM: They’re not sure how this started, but the smoke in the building came in through a window, according to an SFD spokesperson, who verifies that no one was hurt.
They’re still wrapping up the ventilation process.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:44 AM: A few minutes after sending a sizable response to The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor), Seattle Fire has just canceled all but five of the units. That’s still enough for traffic effects in the area, so keep that in mind for a while. We are on our way to find out what’s happening.
10:02 AM UPDATE: Our crew learned at the scene that this involved an electrical problem. No fire – an outlet shortcircuited. No injuries; everyone’s OK.
(WSB photo, midday Monday)
Seattle Fire crews are still keeping “fire watch” at the scene of last night’s house fire in the 5200 block of 18th SW on Puget Ridge (WSB coverage here). And SFD spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl has just sent word of what investigators determined: The fire was accidental.
(WSB photo, midday Monday)
She adds that damage is estimated at “$250,000 loss to structure and $50,000 to contents. A lamp tipped over and ignited some clothing. There was a delay in calling the fire department as the resident tried to extinguish the fire twice.” As SFD reminds in this post on the SFD Fire Line site, please don’t ever wait to call for help:
… A resident used two fire extinguishers to fight the visible flames. When the fire appeared to be extinguished, he left the room. A short time later he returned to find a fully involved room fire. He and his roommates attempted again to put water on the fire but it grew too fast. Once they realized that they couldn’t conquer the rapidly growing fire, they called 9-1-1 and exited the building. Having a fire extinguisher in an accessible location can help keep your home fire safe. The most important step is to immediately call 9-1-1 at the first sign of a fire. Once you know that help is on the way, you can then decide if the fire is small enough to utilize your fire extinguisher. …
You’ll find even more safety information in the Fire Line update.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
7:05 PM: Seattle Fire is at the scene of a reported house fire in the 5200 block of 18th SW [map] on Puget Ridge. They’ve just called for two more engines and are reporting the fire is visible through the roof of one side of the house.
7:11 PM: Via scanner, it’s being described as a heavily involved attic fire.
(Added: Reader video, via text – thank you!)
7:14 PM: Also via scanner, they’re pulling crews out of the house and declaring it a “defensive fire,” apparently because of danger from a power line – they won’t go back inside until power is shut off.
(Added 7:18 pm: Thanks to Jon for the photo)
7:21 PM: Neighbors tell our crew at the scene that people were home when this started but made it out OK. Flames are still visible.
7:29 PM: Firefighters have gone back into “offensive” mode and report the fire’s “knocked down.” No word of injuries so far. SFD is calling for the Red Cross to come offer help to the residents.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
7:46 PM: SFD spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl has just briefed media. She says six people were home and all did indeed get out OK, as did their cat (photo above; rescuer was SFD Lt. Kym LeRoy). She said the fire was in the garage, living room, and attic when firefighters arrived, and discussed the electrical-line problems we mentioned earlier. She also confirms, no injuries. We’ll add video of her briefing once we upload it.
8:06 PM: SFD says all six of the people who were displaced are adults. The cause of the fire isn’t known yet – investigators are on scene.
8:53 PM: We’ve added the video of Lt. Stangl’s briefing. She also says via Twitter that “one elderly woman … was carried out of the house by a neighbor.”
5:16 PM: Seattle Fire is headed for the 6500 block of 31st SW in High Point [map] for a possible house fire.
5:19 PM: Fire units on scene confirm it’s a problem in the kitchen, not a fire, so most of the response is being canceled.
(WSB photo: October 31, Senior Center fire)
3:46 PM: Five days after the arrest of 22-year-old Jacob Kokko in connection with the recent arsons in West Seattle, he is officially charged. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Kokko this afternoon with second-degree arson (a Class B felony), second-degree reckless burning (a gross misdemeanor), and third-degree malicious mischief (a gross misdemeanor). The charges specifically call out the two arsons in The Junction early Halloween morning – in dumpsters underneath the Senior Center of West Seattle and alongside the California/Alaska commercial building that houses businesses including Easy Street Records and Twilight Gallery – and a trash-can fire in the 6500 block of 34th SW, near his home, on October 12th.
(WSB photo: October 31, California/Alaska fire)
His bail remains set at $300,000, and he is scheduled to be arraigned (answer the charges) on November 23rd. On first look, the charging papers shine no further light on a motive, aside from Kokko telling detectives he did it because he “needed help.” As our research indicated, he has no apparent criminal history, prosecutors write, but they sought to keep the bail relatively high because “his unhinged behavior causes great concern for the safety of the community.” The Senior Center fire, in particular, could easily have spread to engulf the entire building, it’s pointed out.
Kokko was arrested last Thursday night, shortly after officers served a search warrant at his High Point home, saying they found evidence linking him to the fires. Court documents say someone who knows him recognized him in the surveillance video that shows the bus-stop fire on Morgan south of 35th being set October 12th; he is not charged in connection with that fire, though, nor with the October 18th Sylvan Ridge car arsons, or the October 19th High Point rental-office fire, or the October 21st 40th/Morgan recycling-bin fire.
ADDED 6:01 PM: Aside from the charges themselves, the information in the new documents is the same as what we reported after Kokko’s bail hearing – at which he did not appear – last Friday afternoon. He is said to have admitted to four fires, the three in which he is charged, and the bus-stop box fire which was recorded on video. He also is said to be on surveillance video setting the Senior Center fire, then walking away, and returning, apparently to be sure it was still going. Otherwise, the only other information we’ve learned about him, from separate research, is that he worked at a restaurant – not in West Seattle – and hadn’t lived here more than a few years; court files show that he was the subject of an eviction filing from an apartment on Avalon Way last summer.
10:35 PM: Per scanner, “fireplace started a wall fire.” Everyone is reported to be out safely.
10:55 PM: Our crew is on scene. Some smoke visible, and firefighters working on the wall.
Some of the responding units are being dismissed. We’ve confirmed that no one is hurt.
11:00 PM: The fire has just been declared “tapped.”
Following up on the two dumpster fires covered here early this morning – police have released the two surveillance images above and below:
They want to hear from anyone who recognizes the person in the images, which are clearly from the scene of the fire in a dumpster behind/underneath the Senior Center of West Seattle, along SW Oregon east of California SW.
(WSB reader photo, by Aaron)
The update says witnesses describe the suspect as “a 20-year-old male with a slight build, wearing a red and grey sweatshirt.” The other fire was reported in the same time frame – around 2:30 am – in a dumpster on the alley behind the California/Alaska building where businesses including Easy Street Records are located. As we reported in our early-morning coverage, both fires were put out relatively quickly, and police converged on both scenes.
Police also say they do NOT believe the fires are related to the recent High Point/Morgan arsons but they do want to hear from anyone who thinks they know the person in the photos – please call 911.
(1st and 5th photos by WSB’s Katie Meyer)
2:48 AM: Firefighters are on the scene right now of two fires, both described as being in dumpsters, in The Junction, a block and minutes apart. More to come.
(This photo & next two by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
3:04 AM: One is on the alley west of Easy Street Records (photo above this paragraph), the other (top and next photo) in the carport under the Senior Center. Too soon to say if they are related to the recent arsons in High Point and Morgan, but indications are that these were set.
3:33 AM: SFD’s investigator (Marshal 5) is taking a look at the fires first; police are continuing to search the area.
Both fires were reported around 2:30 am.
No building damage reported so far but both of these dumpsters were in positions where that could have happened. This area is about two miles from the most recent arson in the series that police have been investigating – early Wednesday, October 21st, in a recycling bin at 40th and Morgan.
4:35 PM: SPD says they don’t think these arsons are related to the recent string, but they do have a surveillance image. We’re writing a separate update but in the meantime – see the new information/imagery here.
For those who wondered about the multiple-unit fire callout in the 4500 block of Beach Drive SW, just south of Me-Kwa-Mooks Park: We’re at the scene; small fire inside the house, out very quickly, and the units still here are wrapping up; the front of the house is being ventilated with a fan.
4 PM: Here’s what’s new in the arson investigation:
Investigators were back in Morgan Junction at midday today, hours after the 2:36 am recycling-bin arson, which has been added to the list of set fires that, as first reported here last night, now dates back nine days. But those investigators weren’t just taking another look at the 40th/Morgan fire that destroyed a bin and charred a fence. We saw them also examining this:
At mid-morning today, two nearby residents called our attention to that spot of burned vegetation on the same side of Morgan as the early-morning bin fire, about a block east/uphill. The SFD call log does not show a callout for it, but neither resident could recall seeing the damage before this morning. So far, Seattle Police haven’t officially added it to the list. But for the overall series of arsons, they are now widely publicizing the $10,000 reward listed on the signs we’ve been showing you – it’s now available for information that solves this fire-setting spree. Here are the locations shown on the map included in their updated SPD Blotter post:
As Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis confirmed to WSB at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, the first fire was set in a trash can on the lawn of a vacant home in the 6500 block of 34th SW. The Seattle Fire log shows that response at 2:40 am Monday, October 12th. Today’s SPD Blotter update says another arson happened at the same time at a nearby bus stop on SW Morgan, where a burning box was found.
Then came the fires set beneath two cars parked next to each other in the 2700 block of SW Sylvan Heights Drive last Sunday morning.
One car’s owner told WSB that the fires were set in some kind of box placed under the cars. That fire callout was at 4:50 am.
On Monday morning at 3:16 am, SFD was called to a waste-bin fire outside the southeast side of the High Point rental-office building at 35th and Holly, a building whose other tenants include a mosque. Though the fire was put out before too much damage was done, you’ll recall it flared up 11 hours later, at 2 pm, bringing a huge response.
The flareup led to serious damage, especially to the building’s mansard-style roof.
Then came this morning’s fire in the recycling bin in the Morgan-facing driveway of a house in the 6500 block of 40th SW. Police responded quickly, as did SFD, but searching the area was a challenge because of thick fog. We just asked SPD again if there’s any hint of a description of a suspect, person of interest, vehicle, anything – so far, Officer Lauren Lovanhill told us, the answer to that is “no.” If you have any information that might help the investigation, don’t hesitate to call 911 or 800-55-ARSON. And in the meantime, consider taking steps to keep the arsonist(s) from finding an easy target – here again is the flyer that’s been distributed around the area, and was shared at last night’s WSCPC meeting:
You can also see it on SPD Blotter. SPD, by the way, says federal ATF investigators are working with them, and that they are checking other jurisdictions to see if anything else might be linked. So far, none of the fires have led to injuries.
ADDED 8:39 PM: Capt. Davis spoke to the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting tonight, talking about the arsons. No major new information but we recorded it on video so you could hear for yourself:
Seattle firefighters from Engine 37 also were there, and presented the type of information you see above, about keeping your home and its periphery clear of anything that might be a “target” for an arsonist.
–Tracy Record, WSB editor
3:12 AM: A recycling-bin fire wouldn’t usually draw an immediate Seattle Police response – but the recycling-bin fire just after 2:30 am alongside a house on SW Morgan, just west of 40th SW, happened within a mile of the unsolved recent arsons.
The fire marshal has just arrived to investigate, and police we talked to on the scene emphasized it was too soon to declare this related, but they’re taking no chances – as we learned at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, three small fires, at least one in a trash container, are also being scrutinized in the ongoing investigation – those date back as far as October 12th, before the Sylvan Ridge car arsons last Sunday and the High Point office building arson on Monday.
There’s heavy fog in Morgan and Gatewood right now, complicating things for officers looking around the area (a searchlight was shone on our car as we headed away eastbound). We’ll update when there’s more information.
8:07 AM: The now-too-familiar sign is up on the charred fence by the burned bin – ARSON, with the hotline to call if you have any information for investigators – 800-55-ARSON. Or, call 911. (Photo added.)
In case you hadn’t seen it, we wanted to show you that flyer, sent to us by multiple readers who have received it from firefighters going door-to-door tonight, in the wake of two arsons – the two cars set on fire in the Sylvan Ridge area early Sunday (WSB coverage here), and the fire set early today at 35th/Holly, the Seattle Housing Authority office building whose other tenants include a mosque (WSB morning coverage here; afternoon coverage of the flareup that further damaged the building is here). As of this afternoon, investigators were saying they had NOT found any evidence to link the two cases, so far; no word of any arrests, or even subject descriptions, yet.
2:12 PM: Fire crews are back at 6558 35th SW. The road is blocked at Holly. More to come.
2:20 PM: More fire crews continue to arrive. Firefighters are focused on the roof. Avoid the area – 35th is blocked south of Morgan and the side streets are jammed.
2:40 PM: Added photos (and Instagram video below). Firefighters are cutting into the building’s mansard-style roof.
The response has brought in multiple ladder trucks, another sign that this fire is centered atop the building, which – if you missed our coverage of this morning’s arson – is home to the Seattle Housing Authority’s High Point rental office as well as other tenants including a mosque.
2:51 PM: While we are still awaiting official information at the scene, a High Point resident says in comments that the homeowners’ association has sent e-mail describing this as a rekindled hot spot from this morning. Via the scanner, we’ve heard SFD make plans to keep “fire watch” on scene – which is typical when there’s concern a fire might re-ignite.
3:04 PM: Seattle Fire spokesperson Lt. Sue Stangl has just spoken to us and the citywide media at the scene but will not confirm that it’s a hotspot – she says their investigator is still on the way, and firefighters are still working on the roof to make sure there’s nothing else smoldering/burning. Via scanner, meantime, we’re hearing that they’re trying to move crews around so 35th SW can be reopened, but in the meantime, we’ll say it again – AVOID THE AREA – 35th is blocked south of Morgan and that’s jammed side streets such as 34th and 36th.
3:35 PM UPDATE: The fire has just been declared “tapped.” Arson investigators are at the scene (photo above). 35th SW has just reopened northbound and should have a southbound lane open soon – though we’d still advise avoiding it, as it’ll be “one lane for a (short distance) right at Holly” for a while.
4:16 PM: Commenter Nora confirms 35th is open again.
(SCROLL DOWN for midday updates – SEPARATE COVERAGE OF AFTERNOON FLAREUP IS HERE)
6:12 AM: Another arson in the High Point area this morning – second morning in a row. As you can see in our photo, “arson” is the declaration on the sign that’s up at the Seattle Housing Authority-operated office on the northeast corner of 35th and Holly [map] after someone set a fire outside its basement entrance on the Holly side just after 3 am. No one was hurt. Seattle Police and Fire investigators are looking into this; it happened less than 24 hours after two cars were set ablaze in the Sylvan Ridge area on the southeast edge of High Point, about half a mile away, though there’s no word on whether this is related – we’ll be following up on that later this morning, and also re-inquiring about the 35th/Austin (ex-Red Star Pizza) fire early Thursday. Back to this morning’s fire – staffers are already at the office cleaning up after water damage and boarding a window; they say it will be open for business today.
11:16 AM: The building is also where the High Point Masjid As Sunnah mosque meets. We stopped again at the scene to check on the cleanup, and staff told us the SHA office side is what was damaged, not the mosque’s area.
SPD tells us they’ll have information to release later this hour, so we’ll have another update coming up.
11:39 AM: Here’s what SPD has just released via its “blotter,” saying they’re not seeing a connection so far between what happened this morning and what happened early Sunday:
Seattle police responded with Seattle fire to three intentionally set fires over the weekend in the High Point Neighborhood in West Seattle.
Police and firefighters responded to the 2700 block of SW Sylvan Heights on Sunday around 4:45 AM after receiving a report of two cars on fire.
Both vehicles were parked on the street and suffered significant damage before the flames were extinguished.
In a separate incident about 24 hours later, officers and firefighters responded to a fire in an entryway of a commercial building in the 6500 block of 35 Ave SW around 3:30 AM Monday. The fire caused exterior damage to the lower level of the building as well interior damage as the flames passed through a broken window.
SPD arson detectives are investigating the two incidents, but say they have not found anything connecting the cases. Police do not currently believe Monday’s fire on 35th Ave SW was set with the intent of targeting any of the tenants of three offices on the property.
Detectives are working with the Seattle Fire Department and our federal partners at ATF on these cases. If you have any information about these incidents, please call 911.
11:52 AM: We just called to doublecheck with SPD to be sure that by “three intentionally set fires” they meant the two cars plus this morning’s fire, not something additional, and Officer Lauren Lovanhill says yes, that’s what it means. She also confirms that the ex-Red Star Pizza fire from last week is NOT considered arson nor related in any way. (Later, SFD told us SPD is investigating that fire, though, because of its proximity.)
3:01 PM: If you haven’t seen our later story yet – fire broke out at this building again an hour ago, bringing a huge callout. We are covering this separately – go here.
9:28 AM: Two cars are seriously damaged after someone set them on fire in Sylvan Ridge, east of High Point, early this morning.
It happened around 4:40 am; the cars were parked in front of townhouses in the 2700 block of Sylvan Heights Drive [map]. Residents tell WSB the fire was set in some kind of container placed under the cars:
He also showed us damage inside his car, in the back seat, which held a car seat, not seen in our photo because the fire even triggered an airbag:
No one was hurt; another resident tells us the other burned car belongs to friends who were visiting from out of town, and she says fast action by neighbors kept the flames from spreading to nearby townhomes, which don’t have much setback from the street. This happened four days after an early-morning car fire at 30th and Graham, half a mile away; we never got final word on the cause of that one, but we’re checking with police about this morning’s fires and will be asking again about that one too.
12:50 PM UPDATE: Just talked with SPD spokesperson Officer Lauren Lovanhill. The 30th/Graham fire last week was NOT related – she says that report is in the system now and says the car owner was at the scene and told officers it seemed to be a mechanical problem that sparked when he was trying to start his car. She says that while the SPD Arson/Bomb Squad was notified about this morning’s incident, they didn’t go to the scene, so the investigation is in the hands of local officers, as well as the SFD investigator (Marshal 5), who did respond; no witnesses, so they have no suspect description(s) so far.