Updates: Fire burns Alki duplex, smoke visible for miles, no injuries

(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 (westseattleblog@yahoo.com) 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):


From Ray:

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, I’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.

28 Replies to "Updates: Fire burns Alki duplex, smoke visible for miles, no injuries"

  • TomA July 24, 2008 (9:04 pm)

    here are some photos from 57th & Admiral, where ash is falling on our houses: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rphlegm/sets/72157606360217947/

  • GenHillOne July 24, 2008 (9:09 pm)

    Wow, big flames and another truck just went by our house.

  • Erik July 24, 2008 (9:09 pm)

    I was riding my bike back from downtown and came upon this, lots of flames in what looks like a house and apartment attached to each other? Unfortunately I didn’t have my phone or camera with to take any pics.

  • Alia July 24, 2008 (9:11 pm)

    I’ve been hearing the sirens roaring by on Genesee. I hope everyone is out of the building and safe.

  • Greg July 24, 2008 (9:12 pm)

    I’m over in Queen Anne and saw the smoke. Holy crap are you guys good to get these pics out before the news even did. Dang, the web at work!!

  • WSB July 24, 2008 (9:19 pm)

    We (with the collaboration of EVERYONE in West Seattle, as the photos and info here show) ARE “the news” … in more ways than one. But thanks for the kind words.

  • rlv July 24, 2008 (9:25 pm)

    2 more units arrived about 3 minutes ago as I walked back into my apartment about a block away from this.

    From what I could gather from a friend of one of the tenants, no one was home. The owners are apparently out of town. The cat was there, but ran as soon as the firefighters got into the house. Folks, keep an eye out for a badly shaken and likely very smokey brown tabby cat. I did a quick walk around the neighborhood, but no sign of it yet. Will keep looking intermittently tonight.

    Am going to see what I might have to donate to them that could be useful, at least in the short term.

  • rlv July 24, 2008 (9:28 pm)

    also, 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!

    The roof has been vented and the major flames and smoke have been knocked down. One engine is just leaving.

  • flipjack July 24, 2008 (9:44 pm)

    That’s horrible, but man that video clip made me laugh… poor guy.

  • Quinn Freeman July 24, 2008 (10:11 pm)

    I’m one of the tenets in the house and no one was hurt. I’m posting here to give information about my cat, 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 of find my cat please post it here, I’m still in the area looking for her.

  • Quinn Freeman July 24, 2008 (10:14 pm)

    I forgot to post my phone number, if anyone has any info for finds my cat, please call 206-920-1609

  • me July 24, 2008 (10:19 pm)

    Thank you firefighters, if you read this…

  • flipjack July 24, 2008 (10:24 pm)

    Oh yes by all means thank you for doing your job firefighters!!!!

  • Diana July 24, 2008 (10:31 pm)

    Flipjack…it’s not funny. The power coming from these hoses is dangerous. And it may not be a “poor guy.” It may have been a “poor gal.” These people put their lives on the line every day and they are men and women.

  • Quinn Freeman July 24, 2008 (11:49 pm)

    The cat was found.

  • WSB July 25, 2008 (12:39 am)

    Thank you, will mention that on fire report #2.

  • Jim July 25, 2008 (1:35 am)

    remember, our new recruits don’t get to use water all the time at the new multi-million dollar academy. And when they do use water, it can’t splash outside the drainage grates. Not what you would call real world training.

  • tsunaminw July 25, 2008 (8:35 am)

    Mostly men and in this case no firefighters on the scene were women, and it was funny in spite of a very serious fire. Lighten up Diana

  • Isabel July 25, 2008 (8:36 am)

    We were there and my friend saw the cat exit the house…I guess someone opened the door to let him out. Glad it was found by it’s owner. I hope it’s okay!

    (It was already mentioned, but it did seem like it took the fire department a while to respond.)

    Glad nobody was injured.

    Thanks, as always, for the updates!

  • Rob Graham July 25, 2008 (8:52 am)

    I was one of the chuckly heads who helped get the resident out and helped hose down the neighbors house. It was a weird experience. But thanks to everyone else who helped.

  • flipjack July 25, 2008 (9:40 am)

    Yeah, Diana, hope you feel better there. I’m not the one who posted the clip in the first place, so don’t blame me.
    The guy or gal, should’ve known that they couldn’t handle that hose by themselves, I’ve actually been on the end of one of those hoses with the help of two firemen who were showing the power of the hoses, so I know it’s not a garden hose.

  • Diane July 25, 2008 (11:26 am)

    re: Mostly men and in this case no firefighters on the scene were women, and it was funny in spite of a very serious fire. Lighten up Diana Comment by tsunaminw

    I was onsite at the fire from beginning til after it was fully distinguished, when the firefighters began removing all that heavy gear, and YES, there was at least one female firefighter who was fully involved in battling this fire

  • Diane July 25, 2008 (11:30 am)

    oops, meant to say fully extinguished

    I don’t know how to go back and edit typos after it’s already posted; is there a way?

    I did preview, missed it; up way too late writing about my experience at the fire

  • Jake July 25, 2008 (1:09 pm)

    Most likely the ones laughing the hardest will be this poor guy’s fellow firefighters when they are back at the station. This video clip will be replayed many times, much to the guy’s chagrin.

    Yes it was a seriously bad fire and all firefighters have my utmost respect for the job they do. But, they will definitely never let that fireman forget the Alki fire. Gallows humor, what more can you say.

  • JimN July 25, 2008 (3:28 pm)

    We live across 56th up on the 4th floor, and got a video from just after the fire started up to the fire department arriving. Haven’t captured it to computer yet, but if anyone (fire, insurance etc.) wants it, let me know.

  • tsunaminw July 25, 2008 (4:12 pm)

    I was onsite from beginning to end as well considering i live 2 doors down. And out of the first 3 trucks on scene there were zero female fireMEN. Take the feminism somewhere else. Laughing during stressful situations is helpful and sometimes the only way to deal, because you feel differently doesn’t mean that is the way it is for everyone. Take a chillpill.

  • WSB July 25, 2008 (4:47 pm)

    Tsunami, I don’t recognize your handle so I don’t know if you are new to the site. The few rules that we do have prohibit insulting others participating in a comment thread – critique their ideas, disagree with their ideas and opinions, but no targeting them. We also, neither in comments nor forums, will stand for people telling anyone else to take something somewhere else – everyone is welcome to express an opinion on WSB as long as they follow by our few rules. You said there were no women among the firefighters who were on the scene; Diane said otherwise. No way to know who’s right without asking the fire department for a list and they certainly have better things to do — TR

  • tsunaminw July 25, 2008 (6:36 pm)

    “It could have been poor gal” says it all, someone needed a podium to make an issue out of the sex of the person when it wasn’t relevant. I said chill out, and that laughing was a normal response under stress. And the video was funny as seeing responses from friends neighbors and co-workers will testify to.

    Some uppity person has an audience for silly comments and I said so. You don’t like it? Then delete my comments.

    You quoted me inaccurately as well, so maybe reason isn’t as important here as making silly statements. I said not in the first 3 trucks, and you can see in the video it isn’t a female. Why even bring up “it could have been a female”? Yes firefighters are both male and female, and nobody questioned it.

    It could have been a midget, a political prisoner, a migrant worker from mexico, an alien lifeform or sasquatch. What has that got to do with the video?
    That was my point, and taking an uptight attitude somewhere else is needed, whether I am allowed to say it here or not.

Sorry, comment time is over.