Arbor Heights house fire, 2 weeks later: Three followups

(August 27th photo by Tony Bradley)
Two weeks ago tomorrow, a black plume of smoke was visible from all over West Seattle and miles beyond, as flames consumed a home near 41st/102nd. We’ve been following up on three issues raised by the fire – from the water-supply problem that hampered firefighters’ work in the early going, to the status of the family who lost their belongings (and two pets) in the fire. Read on:

(August 27th photo by Tony Bradley)
WATER SUPPLY: We checked back with Seattle Public UtilitiesAndy Ryan, to ask exactly when the city planned to hold the “after-action review” mentioned in our post-fire followup on the water issues. He says there is no specific date yet, but he is expecting more information to be available in about a week. Already, Ryan adds, there have been what he characterized as “intense conversations.” (When we spoke with him the week after the fire, he had said it was “premature” to blame the hydrants themselves, saying that SPU had tested hydrants in the area after the fire and found them all working, even the ones that had not been able to supply firefighters’ needs when the first crews arrived.)

MUTUAL AID: In WSB comment discussion post-fire, the topic arose, would automatic mutual aid from the North Highline Fire District (which is headquartered in White Center) have helped, and might the Seattle Fire Department consider pursuing it? We took the topic to SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore, who replied:

(W)e don’t have any plans to enter into an automatic mutual aid agreement with North Highline. We have had a mutual aid agreement with North Highline Fire for over twenty years that continues to work well. Most recently, we sent a task force consisting of a fire engine, a ladder truck and a Battalion Chief to assist North Highline with a large apartment fire in Des Moines. We also have mutual aid agreements in place with neighboring fire departments including Shoreline, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Eastside Fire and Rescue and Renton in the event of larger-scale emergencies.

The Seattle Fire Department has defined procedures when mutual aid is needed. I am enclosing the section from the Seattle Fire Department’s Policies and Operating Guidelines:

“If an incident commander requires additional resources, the requests will first be met by dispatching Seattle Fire Department resources when available. If the resources are not available within the Seattle Fire Department, requests will be made to other City agencies for the resources. If the resources are not available within the City of Seattle, only then will mutual aid be requested.”

HOW’S THE FAMILY DOING? Last but by no means least – we have an update on the family who had been living at the home (but was out of town when the fire started), published in an older story’s comment section yesterday by nearby Arbor Heights Community Church, which has been spearheading the drive to help:

The church has collected over $5,000 in cash, checks, and gift cards to-date for the family. We have also given them a list of people willing to donate household items. They have found a new home in north Burien and are moving in this week. The kids have started school on schedule. “Our family is doing better each week,” they reported (Thursday). A big “thank-you” to the community for blessing the family with your generosity!

According to discussion elsewhere in that comment section, generous community members also helped with vet bills for one of the family’s pets. Two turtles were lost in the fire, but their other pets escaped or were rescued.

5 Replies to "Arbor Heights house fire, 2 weeks later: Three followups"

  • rico September 9, 2011 (12:16 pm)

    SPU as well as many at the Fire Dept. are well aware of what the water supply problem is. There are a number of neighborhoods whose water mains were installed prior to incorporating current theory of using ductile iron mains with concrete linings. The older unlined mains are all becoming clogged due to tuberculation of the main (similar to clogged arteries). So the 6 in. main under your street may have an inner diameter of only 2 ins.

    SPU does not have any plans to solve the problem.

    Remember the Coe Elementary school fire a few years ago, same problem.

  • annf64 September 9, 2011 (3:28 pm)

    Thank you, Tracey for keeping us informed about this!

  • S September 9, 2011 (8:32 pm)

    Yes, thank you Tracey for the Update(s). Glad to hear they have found a new home and are starting to get back up on their feet. Sorry for the loss of the two turtles, RIP Turtles, But am really happy the other pets were saved and the family wasn’t hurt.

  • JO September 17, 2011 (2:20 pm)

    I’m so happy that so many people have stepped up to help. Please let us all know as the initial shock wears off and time passes if there are specific things we can help with, support, supply, recommend, provide…This community is amazing that way!
    Good Luck and continued health to the whole family!

  • Gee September 23, 2011 (3:03 pm)

    Thank you for the Updates Tracey. How is the family
    doing, in dealing with the Insurances? I talked to
    an Insurance Customer Service Representative, and was surprised about all the rules and regulations before the Reimbursements start. Low Water pressure
    issues seemed not to count in there procedures??!!
    I would be very interested to hear opinions,
    regarding this situation.

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