West Seattle, Washington
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.”
2:01 PM: SFD has sent a “full response” to a possible fire at Delridge/Henderson. The first engine on scene isn’t seeing anything so far.
2:13 PM: Firefighters tell our crew that someone had set a small fire inside the vacant building on the northeast corner (itself damaged by fire three years ago and now slated for demolition and redevelopment), apparently to try to warm up, but the fire is out, no further damage done.
7:03 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a full response to a “fire in a building” call at an apartment complex in the 4000 block of California SW.
7:09 PM: This is on California between Andover and Dakota. You’ll want to avoid the area for a while.
7:12 PM: According to radio communication, they haven’t found any sign of fire – some “sparking” – and they’re reducing the size of the response.
7:16 PM: Firefighters report finding an “arcing wire” that’s the source of the problem, and have declared it a “tapped fire.”
7:19 PM: Added photos sent by our crew; we’ve confirmed all of the above at the scene.
Firefighters also say there’s no damage of note, no injuries, and they’ll be wrapping up.
(UPDATED 11:28 AM with more info from SPD)
3:34 AM: SPD and SFD are investigating that car fire, reported about an hour ago in the Southwest Athletic Complex area. In radio discussion, the car was described as having been found fully engulfed in flames – as shown in the photo tweeted by Pat – with no one inside and no one around.
11:29 AM: SPD confirms that its arson detectives are handling the investigation. The car was a 1996 Toyota Corolla – not reported as stolen, in case you wondered (we did). But given the circumstances, it was impounded after the fire was out.
ADDED TUESDAY: In a West Seattle crime discussion at the Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, Southwest Precinct Lt. Ron Smith mentioned that investigators believe an accelerant was used in this fire.
5:59 PM: Seattle Fire has a “full response” going to a possible house fire in Westwood, in the 8400 block of 25th SW.
6:04 PM: First units to arrive are seeing light smoke. But the call is being downgraded, with just a few units to remain.
6:07 PM: SFD confirms that the fire is out and was small. Though it was dispatched as a “single-family residence” fire, they say it turned out to be an apartment.
6:44 PM: A “full response” was heading to a possible house fire in the 3500 block of SW 108th in Arbor Heights – but now most units are being canceled, as the first units to arrive say it’s a “large illegal outdoor fire” that is not threatening any structures.
6:55 PM: The address was corrected to the 10800 block of 36th SW. Our crew has just arrived and was told that the fire was in a big pile of construction debris behind a house.
7:05 PM: The last engine has left and the call is closed.
In case you wondered about the short-lived call at Springline Apartments (3220 California SW) about an hour ago, Christopher Boffoli checked it out for WSB. Kitchen fire, he reports, and it was out pretty quick. No injuries reported; the SFD units you see in his photo have cleared the scene.
11:28 PM: What started as a “car fire” call is now upgraded to a full response, headed for the north tip of Harbor Island [map]. The fire is described on SFD radio as an RV fire within a few feet of a warehouse building.
11:38 PM: The RV fire itself is reported to be under control; firefighters are checking inside the warehouse to be sure it hasn’t spread.
11:46 PM: Some of the units are being dismissed. SFD’s investigator, meantime, is on the way.
2:53 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a full response for a fire reported, per scanner, “in an excavator” at the Waste Management facility in the 7200 block of West Marginal Way SW [map]. SFD says cardboard is what’s burning.
2:58 PM: SFD is dismissing two-thirds of the original response’s units and downgrading the response level.
3:07 PM: Per scanner, they’re re-sending a few units, as the fire is now described as in “compressed garbage.” If you have to head that way, keep in mind that West Marginal Way narrows in that area south of Highland Park Way, and likely blocked by the response.
3:50 PM: We’re checking out a Seattle Fire call logged as “brush fire” in west Gatewood – the address is the 4400 block of SW Kenyon but we’ve found the SFD crews at Portland/44th. More to come.
3:53 PM: This fire call involves downed wires, firefighters tell us. They’ve called for City Light. The fire itself is out. This is in the Gatewood/Upper Fauntleroy 150+-customer power-outage zone but we don’t know if this is what’s to blame.
4:03 PM: SFD also has a crew down the slope at one of 45th SW’s dead ends east of Lincoln Park. On this side, the fire’s still smoldering – there’s a tree down on wires right next to a house.
5:18 PM: The downslope SFD crew has left; we went to that area and a City Light crew was just leaving too. SFD is still up at the SW Portland end, though. We also have heard from a few people not far away who are seeing brown water from their taps; could be related to the hydrant usage, but rather than guess, we’re advising people to call SPU at 206-386-1800.
6:41 PM: Thanks to the neighbor who sent this video from earlier:
We went back to the scene a little while ago and SFD said they expected to be leaving soon, though the Real-Time 911 log shows they haven’t closed the call yet. Seattle City Light was still also working in the area, working carefully to be able to deal with the line that went down.
When a Seattle Fire Department “full response” was sent at midmorning Friday to 5949 California SW – the 2-year-old microstudio apartment building known as Fauntleroy Lofts – it was the eighth time SFD had been called there in the past five days. And while today’s “full response” was for a kitchen fire, some of the other incidents have led to an arson investigation.
Archived Real-Time 911 logs show two calls there on Monday (February 11th), an Automatic Fire Alarm call at 2:56 pm and a 3 Red call at 4:40 pm. There were three on Thursday (February 15th), Automatic Fire Alarm calls at 2:57 pm and 4:39 pm and a 1 Red call at 5:44 pm. Today there were three more – an Automatic Fire Alarm call at 7:04 am, the “full response” at 10:25 am, and an Automatic Fire Alarm at 12:22 pm. Before that, online records show, there hadn’t been an SFD dispatch to 5949 California SW since a fire-alarm call on January 10th.
Two of the calls are linked to police reports classified as “reckless burning” – one on Monday, one on Thursday. The narrative explaining the reasons for that classification isn’t available online; SFD wouldn’t comment on the specifics, referring us to SPD because it’s the “lead agency for the investigation of these incidents.”
A tenant tells WSB that one Monday incident happened because “somebody took a roll of toilet paper, lit it on fire, and threw it into the hallway” and that the same thing happened again Thursday, both times on the same floor. Another incident, the tenant said, was a kitchen fire, while others involved someone “pulling the fire alarm.”
In e-mail to WSB, that resident and another one expressed concerns for their personal safety and security, and concerns that the building’s management/ownership was not doing enough about the situation. We sent an inquiry to an e-mail on the building’s website, and the manager responded that they would forward it to the owners, who e-mailed us this response:
We are writing you in response to an ongoing arson investigation at our building Fauntleroy Lofts. We take this all EXTREMELY serious, as the safety of our tenants has been grossly violated. We are working directly with both the Seattle Fire Dept. Arson Investigation Team and The Seattle Police Dept. to catch the person responsible for setting the fires and false alarms. Although we cannot discuss details of the investigation, we are working to locate and prosecute this criminal to the fullest extent of the law.
As owners, the safety of the both people living in our building and the surrounding community is our highest concern. Perception may be that nothing is being done, but please be assured we are doing everything we physically & legally can to provide our tenants with the safety and security they deserve. Although this may make it appear “nothing is being done”, our biggest priority is following protocol with the Arson investigation team so we can put an end to this so our building is safe again. ANY suspicious activity should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the Arson Investigation Team @ 1-800-55-ARSON or the Seattle Police Dept. Arson/Bomb Unit @ 206-684-8980.
The Owners of Fauntleroy Lofts
According to King County Assessor records, the building has 38 units.
10:30 AM: Seattle Fire is sending a “full response” to 5949 California SW. This is an apartment building that’s had multiple fire alarms in recent days, including one earlier this morning. More to come.
10:35 AM: SFD says it’s reported as a kitchen fire, and that the building’s sprinkler system “contained” it.
10:44 AM: Our crew on scene confirms that no smoke is visible, no reports of any injuries; fire alarms inside the building can still be heard from outside. We’ll be asking about the previous alarms; the most recent one was at 7 am today, and there were three yesterday afternoon. Right now, please avoid California SW in the area – it’s blocked by the emergency responders.
10:52 AM: SFD confirms it’s a kitchen fire and it’s out. They’re not commenting on the other recent calls there. They expect California SW to reopen within about 45 minutes.
12:41 PM: A fire engine is back there now on a separate fire-alarm call.
10:13 PM: A “full response” from Seattle Fire is headed to the 5200 block of 36th SW for a house fire east of Fairmount Park [map]. The first crews arriving are seeing flames. More to come.
10:17 PM: A second alarm is being called as SFD says two houses are involved. They’re also calling for utilities – one house is reported to have wires down in the back yard.
10:26 PM: Per scanner, “the fire is under control in both buildings.” No word of any injuries so far.
10:40 PM: Some of the units are being dismissed.
10:58 PM: The fire has been called as “tapped.” Lt. Sue Stangl spoke to us at the scene; she says they believe the fire started in the house to the south, spread apparently via utility wire(s) to the one next door. (Added – video of her briefing)
If two houses are on fire, it’s an automatic 2-alarm, she explained; fast response also got this under control fairly fast, though they’re still assessing to see if the residents – all of whom got out OK – can go back inside.
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: As noted in comments, SFD has posted an update on the fire’s cause and extent of damage:
Fire damage to the original house was too substantial to reoccupy. The neighboring house’s damage was limited to the exterior but due to air quality inside, the occupants were rehoused temporarily.
Fire investigators determined that discarded smoking materials on the back porch started the fire. The cumulative loss to both houses is estimated to be $300,000.
12:27 PM: Seattle Fire has a big response on the way to the 9100 block of 45th SW in Fauntleroy. More to come.
12:32 PM: We’re just arriving – smoke is visible. It’s a three-story condo building with fire in one unit, per SFD radio, with one firefighter noting they’ve rescued a dog. (Photo added)
And if you’re hearing a helicopter, it’s a TV chopper taking a look.
12:39 PM: SFD tells us this was an electrical problem in a wall and while it generated a lot of smoke, it was confined to the wall. Nobody hurt.
12:44 PM: Note that 45th SW is blocked between Wildwood and Director (just north of the Endolyne mini-business district) until more of the SFD units leave.
4:47 PM: Update from SFD on fire’s cause: “Fire investigators ruled the fire as accidental. Fire was caused by ignition of combustible materials placed too close to an electric wall heater. Estimated loss is $55,000.”
FIRST REPORT, 7:17 PM: Getting word of a power outage in Westwood and South Delridge. More to come.
7:19 PM: Hearing from Highland Park and White Center too. And the SFD log says it’s a vault fire at 22nd and Roxbury.
7:26 PM: On our way to check out the fire scene. Meantime, we’d suggest avoiding Roxbury in that area. And remember that dark stoplights are all-way stops. More than 3,000 customers are out, according to the City Light map.
7:39 PM: Roxbury is blocked by the emergency response, which is near Holy Family. Our crew just arrived in the area. SFD is investigating smoke coming up from a utility-hole cover. For those asking what a “vault fire” means – “vault” in this case is an underground installation of utility equipment.
7:43 PM: The fire is apparently not huge – some units are being dismissed. The City Light restoration estimate is 2 am but PLEASE remember, as we always point out in outage situations (and as SCL itself acknowledges), that is just a guess … could be back on much sooner, or much later.
7:49 PM: Our crew just checked on the detours. If you are headed east, you’ll be rerouted at 21st/Roxbury; if you’re headed west, you’ll be rerouted at 17th and Roxbury.
8:01 PM: We also checked on Westwood Village businesses – the QFC to Marshall’s side is all/mostly out, but other businesses are on. Will also be checking on downtown White Center, which is in the outage zone too, per SCL’s map.
8:14 PM: Per comments, texts, and firsthand sightings in the field, we have word at least some have their power back already. SCL’s map says the outage is down to 1,300+ customers, less than half the initial number.
8:35 PM: As shown on the updated map above, almost everyone still out is south of Roxbury. That includes downtown White Center:
We’d heard police say via scanner that they had been told they could reopen Roxbury. We’ve also just seen a tweet that Route 560 is no longer rerouted off Roxbury – we’re heading back to the zone to verify.
8:41 PM: Just checked the SCL map and it shows just about everyone back on. If you are NOT – please be sure SCL knows – 206-684-3000. Thanks again to everyone for the updates, including first word of the outage – 206-293-6302 is our breaking-news hotline, 24/7.
9:24 PM: We did verify that Roxbury is open again; when we went through, the 16th/Roxbury signal was in flashing-red mode, though, so another reminder, that means stop all ways.