Updates: House fire @ 45th/Erskine; firefighters battle heat too

(scroll down for newest info; adding fire cause/damage, 4:54 pm update)

(photo substituted 2:06 pm – courtesy Tony Bradley)
ORIGINAL 1:15 PM REPORT: WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli is on the scene and reports lots of smoke. The callout’s in the 5200 block of 45th SW (map). 1:31 PM UPDATE: This fire isn’t out yet. It’s a single-family house, according to property records. Our second person has just arrived at the scene and is reporting lots of smoke, still. Police are stopping westbound traffic in that direction from California or 44th. Sounds like cross-street will be Dawson. 1:38 PM UPDATE: Big story at the scene – firefighters working in this record heat. Paramedics are checking them out; co-publisher Patrick Sand reports there’s ice and water everywhere, some firefighters are being hosed down as they rotate through the scene. House has a big hole in the roof now, cut by firefighters to ventilate the fire, and smoke is still coming out. Patrick just talked to one of the two people who were home at the time – the resident says nobody in the house was hurt, both got out OK, and they have no idea how the fire started. Meantime, here’s a photo sent to us by the folks at the Coast Guard station on the downtown waterfront – at one point you could see the smoke from all the way over there:

1:53 PM UPDATE: Crews on the scene tell us this is all part of the special hot-weather procedure, including extra crews brought in so the first crews on the scene can be relieved before working too long in the heavy suits and high temperatures. Also, the fire is not yet tapped – smoke still visible and firefighters are still in the house in full gear. Here’s a cameraphone photo of one getting checked out outside:

Listening to the scanner from WSB HQ, we can also hear the logistical planning that SFD leaders are doing to rotate crews in and out because of the weather. 2:07 PM UPDATE: Adding photos from Tony Bradley, who was on the scene moments after firefighters. We also have spoken with an incident commander who tells us that while a police officer and firefighter were both checked out for possible dehydration earlier, both are OK. The fire is still not completely “tapped.”

We’ve also talked again with one of the residents, who says they’re trying to figure out where they’re going to go, but they have to stay at the scene for now to wait to talk with fire investigators. 2:24 PM UPDATE: Adding photos from Christopher Boffoli, including the firefighters coping with the heat:

2:41 PM UPDATE: One update from Fire Department spokesperson Helen Fitzpatrick – one of the house’s occupants has decided to go to the hospital for treatment, after discovering some burns. Adding more of Christopher’s photos:

And also this video by co-publisher Patrick:

4:54 PM UPDATE: According to SFD’s Fitzpatrick, the fire was accidental – ashes from a barbecue ignited the deck, and spread to the house. Damage is estimated at $150,000. The resident who went to the hospital for burn treatment is the only official injury related to the fire.

44 Replies to "Updates: House fire @ 45th/Erskine; firefighters battle heat too"

  • junction worker July 29, 2009 (1:19 pm)

    he’s west seattle’s version of JIM FORMAN!

  • rhody July 29, 2009 (1:23 pm)

    I can see ash falling from the sky around juneau

  • WSG July 29, 2009 (1:24 pm)

    I hope no one is hurt!

  • r26 July 29, 2009 (1:25 pm)

    so much smoke that I thought it was my house & ran around looking (37th & Morgan).
    2 fire trucks just ran down Morgan.

  • Tobi July 29, 2009 (1:28 pm)

    There’s a rumor that it’s Uptown Espresso at the Junction. :(

  • Liberty Bell July 29, 2009 (1:28 pm)

    At least 8 fire vechicles and Medic One have responded. Make that NINE!

  • Jack July 29, 2009 (1:30 pm)

    i’ve seen 5 firetrucks and 3 ambulances speed down california ave so far.

  • VL July 29, 2009 (1:30 pm)

    I can see it from 35th and Raymond. Any word on what type of building is on fire? Or if anyone is hurt??

  • L M July 29, 2009 (1:33 pm)

    I am the one who called 911 – two doors down. Person came out of their house yelling call 911 so I did then I looked outside – flames were already going up 50 ft tree and out of house – still stressing here!

  • WSB July 29, 2009 (1:34 pm)

    Tobi, it is NOT Uptown Espresso. It’s a single-family house in 5200 block of 45th, as we have updated. We will be updating fast and furious in the minutes ahead so keep watching the story – we have two people on the scene now – TR

  • bsmomma July 29, 2009 (1:34 pm)

    I’ve been on the phone with my mom who lives on California & Dawson for 10 minutes and the sirens have finally stopped.

  • Kristina July 29, 2009 (1:48 pm)

    I live on 45th between Brandon and Findlay, close to Brandon, just a block away from this scene. I have a dog and cat at my house, and I’m not there right now (I’m blocks away at a friend’s house). How bad is the smoke? Should I get my animals to a different location? Is anyone there that can advise me?

  • Sage K July 29, 2009 (1:52 pm)

    What a bad day to have to fight a fire. I hope the firefighters are taking care of themselves as they work!

  • WSB July 29, 2009 (1:54 pm)

    Kristina, Patrick has been calling me minute by minute and while there’s still smoke and it’s a strong smell, it doesn’t seem to be filling the air or something that would jeopardize your pets. And the fire certainly won’t spread – they just still have some hot spots – TR

  • Kristina July 29, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    TR, have I mentioned lately how much I love you and the WSB? THANK YOU! I am at a playdate with my 6 year old and wasn’t sure if I should drag her out of the kiddie pool in the backyard to go deal with this situation. I feel much better for your response. I am grateful!

  • Amy July 29, 2009 (2:11 pm)

    WSB, fabulous reporting! We as a community are so lucky to have you, and it is particularly noticable during events like this. From real time reporting to follow up in the comments, you do an outstanding job.

  • Cheryl July 29, 2009 (2:18 pm)

    I was on my way to pick up my daughter @ Spanish school on CA Ave & Juneau at about 12:55pm. The fire smoke looked BAD at that time. Must’ve just started based on this story. Glad no one was hurt, esp fire crews!

  • Kingston July 29, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    Is there any danger to the surrounding houses or those on the street behind it? I have yet to hear that the fire is contained, and my son is one block over on 44th. Kinda nervous…

  • WSB July 29, 2009 (2:44 pm)

    No. Fire is largely tapped. Just that one house. The big activity is largely due to the fact that all the firefighters need special procedures because of the heat.

  • Kingston July 29, 2009 (2:52 pm)

    Thank you for the reassurance, TR!

  • Mike in the Junction July 29, 2009 (3:17 pm)

    Those are incredible pictures. Hats off to the firefighters!!!!

  • Karen July 29, 2009 (3:35 pm)

    Bless our firefighters:)

  • christopherboffoli July 29, 2009 (3:38 pm)

    Not that they’re not heroes for what they do every day, but they definitely earned their pay today.

    Here’s my Flickr stream:


  • bridge to somewhere July 29, 2009 (5:23 pm)

    kudos to the fire squad. i can barely walk around in shorts and a t-shirt today. those folks are HARD CORE!

  • kmjorgensen July 29, 2009 (5:36 pm)

    I was the person whom came upon the house fire at first and jumped out of my car yelling, “Call 911, Call 911—there is a house fire!” I knocked on the door to tell the occupants their house was on fire and tried to alert other neighbors about the fire. The two people that lived there came out and were stunned to find the whole side of their house and tree on fire!
    Glad everyone got out safely. Hopefully no one was hurt.

  • Firefighter July 29, 2009 (6:31 pm)

    Fire is out. Mine is still burning, who was the cute woman running around taking pics and on blackberry type cell? You left before I could say Hello!

  • JenV July 29, 2009 (6:45 pm)

    nicely done, kmjorgensen! :D add you to the list of heroes today.

  • JanS July 29, 2009 (6:45 pm)

    I;m sooo sorry to hear this…and it’s so hot and dry out there..everyone please be careful. And if you BBQ..dump in a bucket and put water on the coals and ashes…this is such a shame….:(

  • WSB July 29, 2009 (8:30 pm)

    Firefighter, sorry we can’t help you – the three photographers who contributed to our coverage all have XY chromosomes. The one who happens to be sitting 10 feet away from me right now says that might have been the Seattle Times’ photographer – TR

  • cjboffoli July 29, 2009 (9:12 pm)

    Firefighter: I think I may have found your muse in the far corner of one of my frames.


  • FF July 29, 2009 (11:04 pm)

    Thanks for the replies! and that is a “confirmed” on the photo.
    Thanks for not deleting my post.
    You always do a great job and we all look forward to your West Seattle coverage.

  • WSB July 29, 2009 (11:14 pm)

    As proven today, with three photojournalists on scene and me back here, it’s a team effort (and for WSB, an important part of the team is also the folks who e-mail, call, tweet, text, FB, etc., to send us word of breaking news – about a dozen in all today, though the first one we heard/saw was Christopher’s phone call). As it is all about teamwork with you all, too. BTW, another barbecue-grill-embers fire in the region today …

  • alkisw July 30, 2009 (12:25 am)

    RIP Last Ditch Studio

  • WSB July 30, 2009 (2:53 am)

    Alkisw – I saw something about a fire-destroyed recording studio via Twitter. Haven’t heard back from the person who’d tweeted. Would like to follow up – if you have someone to forward our contact info to – editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

  • Christopher Boffoli July 30, 2009 (7:40 am)

    I did see firefighters carrying out of the house what looked like guitars or lutes or something they were trying to salvage.

  • WSMom July 30, 2009 (10:12 am)

    I’m still trying to figure out how Christopher got to the fire so quickly. It seemed like you arrived even before the firefighters :)!

    I live across the street from the fire, heard the residents of the house calling for help and called 911. I am very impressed with the response time by the SFD! I think the first truck arrived within 5 minutes of my 911 call! Our fire fighters were amazing! The fire was already at least 30 feet up a cedar tree ready to spread to the house next door. If not for our quickly responding fire fighters we easily could have lost more than one house.

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle July 30, 2009 (11:59 am)

    Does anyone know what the big call-out was for Tuesday night around 7:50 to 9000 block of 8th Ave SW?? There was a ton of black smoke seen from EC Hughes park area, and I heard sirens and saw the 911-log online, but never figured out what was actually burning….

  • Mmcc July 30, 2009 (2:46 pm)

    Is there anywhere to drop off donations for the occupants of the home?

  • WSB July 30, 2009 (3:01 pm)

    I am told there’s a collection going around at Shadowland – checking into that in hopes of writing a separate story shortly – TR

  • Kingston July 30, 2009 (5:35 pm)

    kmjorgensen, WS Mom and L M, you are heroes!

    I hope Firefighter gets the girl.

  • Digidoll July 30, 2009 (5:46 pm)

    It was a shadowland bartender who lost his home…. Yes, the SAME shadowland that Jill St Onge worked at, who died a couple of months ago in Thailand. In the spirit of beating the heat, they have a/c, and are accepting donations to help him out, as well as to help restore their music/recording studio.

  • WSB July 30, 2009 (5:57 pm)

    Thanks – if you happen to see any of the principals in this, please ask them to get in touch with us – Patrick went through four venues trying to find some of the people whose names we were given and nobody seemed to be around – we’d like to write a separate story about this and let people know how to help – editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks

  • WS Fan July 31, 2009 (3:52 pm)

    What firestation number was Firefighter Bernal from? He is the gentleman bending down with hands on knees.

  • FF August 8, 2009 (4:56 pm)

    Bernal is at 37’s on 35th Ave SW

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