West Seattle, Washington
(FIRST WSB REPORT WITH MULTIPLE UPDATES, LOTS OF PIX/VIDEO, CAN BE FOUND HERE)
Starting a new post to add more photos and any new information we get on the investigation of tonight’s fire at 2508 56th SW (map). Those two photos above were sent by David Hutchinson, who also contributed to our first 2 1/2 hours of fire coverage. The next photo is from D.S., who says it “was taken before the fire trucks got set up. Neighbors were hosing down the nearby house.”
At the scene, we talked with Shane Gilbert, who describes in this video clip what he heard just as the fire started:
And here’s an odd little scene we recorded around the corner – it’s not quite Nero fiddling while Rome burned, maybe more like taking advantage of a near-captive audience (since Alki Ave was blocked off at that point):
Still no update on the SFD media line (since the information we included in our first report); we’ll check again before taking our brief overnight break. 12:44 AM UPDATE: A tenant from the burned duplex had reported in comments on the first fire report that her cat was missing; now a followup comment says it’s been found. 3 AM UPDATE: Hotline now has an update – no cause determined yet, they need to “talk to a few more people, including the owner, who’s out of town” (as we reported in our first series of updates); the damage is estimated at $150,000 – $100K to the 86-year-old structure, $50K to its contents. Meantime, Logan Jenott sent along a gallery link and word of the unique perspective that afforded the chance to be shooting video as the fire trucks rolled up;
Here’s Logan’s story:
My volleyball team and I were playing a league game on Alki beach when my teammate Rob noticed a small fire burning on the covered deck of a house across the street. As the fire rapidly grew I grabbed my phone and called 911 while my teammates and I raced raced across the street. We were yelling that the house was on fire and my teammates Rob and Pamela pounded on the doors, trying to alert any occupants. One occupant was home on the ground floor and immediately evacuated. It took about 7 minutes for the first fire truck to arrive (my 911 call initially went to Kitsap County and they had to transfer me to Seattle, then I was on hold for about 1 minute before getting a dispatcher); by then the roof over the deck had collapsed, the fire had spread across the deck into the house and to the house next door. A large crowd had gathered and watched as a total of 5 fire trucks arrived and firefighters began battling the blaze.
From Logan’s gallery, you can play another clip that gives an even better picture of the number of spectators that gathered.
We’re checking this out on our way back from the Alki fire (still updating that coverage with more info and pix): Car hit parked car on southbound 35th near Holden, one person to hospital, two southbound lanes blocked. 10:59 PM UPDATE: Video of the scene – towing was imminent, but some cleanup also was needed for transmission fluid from one or both vehicles:
(scroll down and/or refresh for frequently added updates and photos – FIRST VIDEO CLIP AND PHOTO ARE COURTESY “ROCK STEELE”)
FIRST POST: Thanks to everyone who has called and texted. Lots of reports of big plume of black smoke visible from a long way away. Address is 2440 Alki (map), which checks out to an apartment building, though one caller describes it as “a house.” More than a dozen fire units called out. We’re on the way. Send photos if you have them (firstname.lastname@example.org) 9:07 PM UPDATE: (Second) photo above from gallery that TomA linked from the comments section (thank you), taken at 57th/Admiral. 9:12 PM UPDATE: WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli has been at the scene – he says it’s either a single-family home or a duplex-type structure, residential for sure. It was fully engulfed in flames (as you can tell from photo above). No word yet if anyone was hurt; scanner says they’re searching the second floor to be sure no one was inside. Traffic as you would imagine is “a parking lot” as Christopher puts it (and co-publisher Patrick, who is heading there to be our second crew on the scene, confirms it) so if you don’t have to be in that area, stay away. Scanner has firefighters calling in additional reinforcements for “crew rotation.” Patrick reports a SFD fireboat is visible just offshore; (added later) here’s Christopher’s photo of that fireboat:
9:21 PM UPDATE: Patrick talked to an investigator – no injuries, at least so far as they can tell now. Just added photo at very top of post, street-level pic courtesy “Rock Steele” (thank you to everyone sending photos – we’ll add other ones here inline in the post) – Alki News Beacon editor Cami MacNamara reports this is “a house converted to a duplex … the upstairs owner just left for Arizona yesterday.” 9:26 PM UPDATE: More photos just in, from Dartanyon Race, including this one:
Meantime, Patrick reports the fire is considered to be mostly “out,” with hot spots — the incident commander tells WSB investigators are on their way to start figuring out how it started. 9:31 PM UPDATE: Pulling up important info from “rlv” in the comments: “… police have Alki blocked off and are diverting traffic up 55th, which is not a huge street and is thus pretty packed. Please do avoid the area!” 9:34 PM UPDATE: Just added video clip, also courtesy “Rock Steele,” at the very top of this post. Click here for direct link to it on YouTube. 9:37 PM UPDATE: Scanner says a “media camera unit Ford Explorer” is at 56th and Lander and fire crews need it moved. Just in case any of the TV stations are reading this – check on your crews before someone gets towed! Also, Christopher’s photos are coming in – here are a couple:
9:41 PM UPDATE: Briefing from Fire Department public-info officer – cause not known – fire crews will be on scene for some time to come – she confirmed, nobody hurt and nobody home when it happened. 9:51 PM UPDATE: More pics in, this time from David Hutchinson – he shot the first one before fire units arrived, the second one as the first fire units were getting there:
9:58 PM UPDATE: Patrick reports the fire department public-info person has left, but City Light is there now, and has taken down power to part of the surrounding block. We may not have an official cause for a while; one e-mail, plus observations from Christopher at scene, place unofficial suspicion on a barbecue on the second floor – Christopher says it’s a gas grill. Here’s another of his shots, a wide shot from behind the building:
10:10 PM UPDATE: Still more photos continuing to come in – and many capture different aspects of what it took to fight this fire, like these from Thomas Wagner:
And here’s another Christopher Boffoli photo, taking a closer look at a firefighter in action:
Meantime, this photo was sent by Ray Carter, who adds some narrative (beneath the photo):
Seemed like a long response time. I ended up directing traffic for a bit, neighbors were using garden hoses both to help and to prevent spread of fire to their own places, SPD was first on scene…
A good thing to emphasize in coverage might be that:
A) Pedestrian vs Firetruck=flat pedestrian. Do not test this hypothesis, lest you become flat. At a fire scene, DO NOT try and cross roads that are approach paths.
B) DO NOT slow down, look, and stare intently at the fire as you drive past at 5mph – you obstruct Fire/Police/Medical access, and can cost lives and vastly increase property damage. Remember, Fire moves fast,
and so must Emergency Services. Usually 4 minutes from ignition to fully involved.
10:27 PM UPDATE: One of the tenants from the building has posted a comment saying her cat is missing: “… she is a medium sized older cat with mostly brown fur, her right front paw has a limp and her name is Puss, if you have any information (or) find my cat please post it here, Iâ€™m still in the area looking for her.” 10:30 PM UPDATE: Listening to the Fire Department’s media-hotline recording, their official info has a different address from the 911 log – 2508 56th SW (56th/Alki) – also describes it as “a fully involved garage fire that extended into a duplex, there was one resident home at the time and a neighbor pounded on the door and got him out.” No cause yet, though. Property records say this duplex was built in 1922. 10:38 PM UPDATE: The King County Parcel Viewer map (screengrab) gives you a better idea of the location:
Also just in, this photo from Vanessa Hutchinson:
Vanessa also blogged about checking WSB for info (and finding it) as soon as she realized something was going on. Thanks for the mention! 11:12 PM UPDATE: We are processing more video to add shortly, including an interview with an eyewitness. Checked with SFD again, still no word on an official cause. 11:59 PM UPDATE: Started a new post for additional photos, some video we brought back from the scene, and any early-am info on cause, Alki Ave status, etc. You’ll find that post here.
Word just in from Nancy Woodland of WestSide Baby (WSB sponsor this week in honor of the annual “Stuff the Bus” diaper drive): Costco has just agreed to match all the diapers donated in this Sunday’s drive, up to 14,000! So your contribution will count double. Bring diapers to the big school bus (photo at left from last Saturday’s Grand Parade) that’ll be parked by the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, 10 am-2 pm Sunday, 44th at Alaska.
The bell-ringing countdown to the centennial celebration of Fauntleroy Church (WSB sponsor) is almost over, and the big events start tomorrow. Judy Pickens details what’s happening tomorrow night (and you’re invited), and the historical events it celebrates:
The community bean feed in Fauntleroy tomorrow will reprise a popular event, especially with neighborhood children, that had its heyday in the 1930s and 40s. The original bean feed was a celebration for the entire community when most households there were involved in the Fauntleroy Church and YMCA. The idea came from the fact that, in the earliest days of the church (observing its centennial this year), women cooked beans in a big kettle over an outdoor fire to serve at church dinners.
The menu was always baked beans, some sort of meat (ham in fat years, wieners in lean). Jello, coleslaw, and cake from home kitchens rounded out the meal. Upward of 250 youngsters would crowd tables set up in the gymnasium and were known to pound their forks impatiently, shouting “Beans! Beans! Beans!” When the meal was over, the tables were pushed aside and the entertainment began. Timed for the end of the Y’s program year, the event featured an act from every age group, from the Friendly Indians on up. Dancing, skits, recitations – whatever the kids could think of to strut their stuff – were appreciated by all.
The July 25 bean feed promises much the same menu and much the same enthusiasm for the talent show that follows. For ease of serving, the event will be in Fellowship Hall at the church, starting at 6 pm. It will be by-donation but, if you plan to attend, call the church office (932-5600) so that they’ll be sure to have enough beans. The talent show will end in time for folks to walk or take a shuttle to Fauntleroy Cove for 8:30 vespers on the beach (Brace Point SW and Fauntleroy Way SW; map) to reprise the early gatherings that led to founding of the church. Sing old hymns, say a prayer or two, and (a modern addition) make ‘smores around the bonfire. Bring a flashlight or lantern and dress for the weather.
Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the first service at Fauntleroy Church; that day, Fauntleroy historian Ron Richardson will lead an area walking tour (10 am; call 938-5293 to RSVP; tour starts from the south parking lot at Lincoln Park).
Near the expected southern end of the future West Seattle RapidRide bus route, we caught up this morning with a city delegation including Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Jan Drago (at right, with various SDOT and council administration staff, two of whom live in West Seattle, as does Rasmussen). Our last major update on RapidRide came from a briefing presented to the city council last month (WSB coverage here); as a bus service to be provided by Metro, RapidRide is a county operation, but city leaders are trying to keep close watch on the plans. As Drago — who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee — put it, “This is the first of three (RapidRide routes) in the city and we want to make sure it’s done right – it’ll set a precedent for a long time to come” During that briefing in June, she had expressed a lot of concern that RR wouldn’t really live up to the “rapid” in “bus rapid transit” because it will still have a fair number of stops; this morning, Drago told WSB her concern about that has lessened a bit, because there are far fewer stops between Morgan Junction and downtown, than along the southern stretch between MJ and WV. She also said the bus-route tour was eye-opening in one respect: “There’s a lot more development going on over here than I realized.” As we discussed that development — particularly in the booming Triangle area — for a few minutes, Rasmussen noted that he wants to be sure developers are involved in the discussion before the RR design and other aspects are finalized, since so much will be changing in the area in the next few years before RR is scheduled to be ready to go in 2011. Drago said the city is sending Metro a letter with many followup questions regarding this RapidRide route (you can see a map here – the late-spring version that the city delegation was reviewing this morning matched that one except for a few additional stops between the ferry dock and Westwood Village). She also revealed there’s some talk of leasing parking lots – where and whose, we don’t know – to alleviate the parking crunch that’s already been caused by “park-n-hiders” who drive to The Junction and leave their cars in neighborhoods, to catch buses downtown. As for what’s next from the city standpoint, Drago expects her committee to revisit RapidRide late this year or early next. And with that, the delegation re-boarded its van, and headed back to City Hall.
We met Denny Middle School assistant principal Mia Williams back during mid-winter break, when we covered the music camp at Denny. This afternoon, Seattle Public Schools sends word that after four years as assistant principal at Denny, Williams has been appointed interim principal at Aki Kurose Middle School. ADDED THURSDAY NIGHT: Here’s why AKMS needs a new principal.
MOVIE #1: “Peter Pan” outdoors @ High Point Community Center, as part of 6-9 pm “family night” event.
CRIMEFIGHTING MEETING: The monthly White Center/South Delridge Community Safety meeting is 6-8 pm tonight, St. James Place (9421 18th SW), dinner provided. Among the agenda items, a name for the group (you’ll recall the West Seattle Community Safety Partnership changed its name last month to West Seattle Crime Prevention Council).
All of the above – free! Many more West Seattle events for tonight and way beyond, listed here.
At 35th/Raymond, this is one of two SDOT crews onscene right now to work on the signal upgrade – as we reported last month, the city is turning this into a full-service traffic signal. Now, on to the Junction/Triangle area:
Here’s what the Fauntleroy Place (future Whole Foods, ex-Schuck’s/Hancock) demolition site looks like as of moments ago. On this third day of teardown work, the building itself is still standing while crews continue clearing debris out of its interior (note the huge piles), much of it to be recycled; also note the orange-vested woman in the left-hand foreground – a city worker putting up signs about the revised permit application that’s just been filed (here’s the notice) Design Review Board hearing on the newest FP design (see it in this WSB story) coming up August 14th (8 pm, High Point Community Center). Side note, a small group of little kids and their adult chaperone (day-care, perhaps) have been strolling the perimeter, excitedly watching all the heavy equipment in action. Speaking of little kids, that brings us to what’s happening less than a block away at a future development site:
As promised, the bus that First Student is loaning WestSide Baby (WSB sponsor) for this Sunday’s “Stuff the Bus” diaper drive is in place at the old Huling Buick showroom site (which the same developer that’s handling Fauntleroy Place, BlueStar, plans to turn into Gateway Center). The bus is just there till Saturday as a billboard of sorts – the bus will be at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market (44th at Alaska) on Sunday, 10 am-2 pm, ready for “stuffing” with disposable diapers for local families in need – WestSide Baby hands out hundreds of thousands a year (they’re not covered by food stamps) — go get some and bring ’em down that day.
Tough economic times mean more people to serve at the West Seattle Food Bank – and now there’s word the WSFB needs some behind-the-scenes help itself: Board president Pete Spalding says, “We have lost a couple of board members recently and are now trying to fill a couple of slots on the West Seattle Food Bank Board with some really committed West Seattleites.” He says the food bank’s mission is as follows:
The West Seattle Food Bank is committed to eliminating hunger in our area. We do this by:
– Securing and distributing quality nutritious food to clients
– Educating clients about good nutrition
– Increasing public awareness of hunger in our community
– Coordinating community services for clients
– Assuring continuity of services to clients through a convenient, accessible location
You can call or e-mail WSFB to find out how to get an application to join the board; contact info is here.
(2007 photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
The demolition of the ex-Schuck’s/Hancock building at Fauntleroy/Alaska/39th (continuing today) isn’t drawing many tears but other buildings can be a different story. As we wrote here in April 2007 when development plans for 6053 California (above) were first announced, we’ll be sad to see it go. It’s nothing fancy but its unique “Mission Revival” facade has been a semi-landmark of sorts at that California/Graham corner (across from the shuttered Chuck and Sally’s – nothing new on that, by the way – in one direction, the up-for-sale Strata in another). The demolition permit has just been issued. Here’s the project that will replace it, with “live/work” units and townhouses:
The West Seattle architect whose firm designed it, Brandon Nicholson, showed that rendering at the June “can townhouse design be saved?” forum as an example of non-cookie-cutter-architecture alternatives (it’s not a solid block of building – there’s a courtyard among other things). And the city ruled the old building didn’t warrant landmark consideration, despite some unique-for-its-time (1924) features. Nonetheless, we and others have memories, and some wistfulness will linger after the backhoes depart.
Our previous reports on the Admiral group proposing a kids’ play area for the tiny park shown above — California Place, at California/Hill next to Admiral UCC church (map) — have been greeted by some comments suggesting the space might be better left undeveloped. Nobody showed up at the group’s first community meeting last night to express that opinion in person, but those who feel that way will likely be interested to hear that the proposal isn’t what you might suspect — they’re not seeking to turn it into a playground, but rather, per a phrase offered by a Parks Department staffer who attended the meeting to observe, a “play space.” Here’s the explanation:Read More
They marched in The Parade, they’re parking a bus in the Junction/Triangle area today, and Sunday’s the day you’ll find WestSide Baby hoping you will help them stuff that bus during the annual diaper drive to help local families. We asked WestSide Baby (sponsoring WSB this week to help promote Stuff the Bus) executive director Nancy Woodland if there’s any particular size(s) they need most — Nancy’s reply: “Everything is needed but we do have some that seem to go out more than others. Newborns, Size 5, Size 6 and Size 4t-5t Pull-Ups.” So get out and buy some diapers, in those sizes and/or others, to bring to the big bus that’ll be parked next to the West Seattle Farmers’ Market (44th at Alaska) 10 am-2 pm on Sunday.