UPDATE: Fire at vacant Westwood house; firefighter injured

(Added: Photo courtesy Conrad)
2:51 PM: Seattle Fire has a “full response” headed to a possible house fire in the 9200 block of 31st Place SW, which is in Westwood (map). More to come.

(Smoke was visible for blocks – photo courtesy Sebastian, looking SW over Westwood Village)
2:55 PM UPDATE: It’s a confirmed fire and SFD units have water on it.

(WSB photos from here down)
3 PM UPDATE: Now reported to be under control. One possible injury.

3:07 PM UPDATE: Via Twitter, SFD describes the house as “vacant.” That’s borne out by this DPD record for the address that SFD has logged for the fire – a complaint made and investigated less than a month ago.

3:20 PM UPDATE: Nobody hurt, we’ve confirmed with SFD. Fire investigators are en route to look into the cause. The fire is mostly out except for some smoldering in the walls. Neighbors tell us it’s been a problem house for a year or so.

3:35 PM UPDATE: Update – we’ve since been told a firefighter suffered a hand injury and has been taken to the hospital.

5:58 PM UPDATE: As mentioned in comments, fire and police investigators have been there; we went back over for photos.

Still no official word on the cause, but the police presence confirms they are investigating the possibility of arson.

MONDAY UPDATE: Lt. Sue Stangl from SFD says investigators determined that this fire was “set,” and so Seattle Police are investigating. Damage to the house is estimated at $100,000, and $5,000 to its contents.

19 Replies to "UPDATE: Fire at vacant Westwood house; firefighter injured"

  • Andi October 3, 2015 (2:53 pm)

    Hearing all the sirens over here in Arbor Heights. Hoping for the best for the residents.

  • john October 3, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    Heard several fire trucks go by 35th sw and holly

  • Andi October 3, 2015 (2:56 pm)

    Scratch that, pretty sure we can smell it up here. Is it a bad one?

  • Laura October 3, 2015 (3:00 pm)

    Sirens are unrelenting. Hoping for the best.

  • C-rad October 3, 2015 (3:01 pm)

    The problem house on the corner. There have been squatters there. They are cutting into the roof now. We heard a loud bang about ten minutes before fire response showed up

  • Allison October 3, 2015 (3:06 pm)

    I talked to an officer on the scene who said a car crashed into a house and the house is on fire. He is blocking the entrance to 31st at Roxbury. I smelled something weird about 10 minutes ago and saw the smoke plume wafting to the south.

    • WSB October 3, 2015 (3:15 pm)

      Allison – our photographer is there and doesn’t see any vehicle, and firefighters didn’t mention one, but I told him about your comment and he’s asking. And re: other comments, yes, SFD calls it “vacant” and I looked up the DPD complaint history, finding a recent one. Thanks. – TR

  • AG October 3, 2015 (3:17 pm)

    My husband walked past and there was a woman screaming out front. Her partner set the house on fire intentionally with himself inside. It was a suicide attempt. I pray he survived and will get the help he needs.

    • WSB October 3, 2015 (3:24 pm)

      Those on scene were rather insistent that no one is hurt, no car (per Allison’s comment), but now we’ll ask them one more time … Medic 32 was on scene but hasn’t transported anyone. (update) They insist again that nobody was in the house and nobody was injured. AG, did your husband see anyone on a stretcher, or?

      • WSB October 3, 2015 (3:42 pm)

        Update: An aid car did transport someone from the scene – but that was a firefighter with a hand injury. Lt. Sue Stangl, who I just called to make sure nothing had changed, says a man was seen leaving the house before the fire, but has not been found, so whether he is to blame, whether this was indeed an intentional fire, the investigator will be looking into upon arrival – they did not find anyone inside. The person who was screaming is believed to have been one of the squatters, Lt. Stangl said. – TR

  • C-rad October 3, 2015 (3:49 pm)

    Arson investigator just arrived. From snippets of conversations we overheard, it sounds like it was intentionally set and the perpetrator is at large.

    • WSB October 3, 2015 (4:10 pm)

      SPD arson or SFD’s investigator (“marshal 5”)? If the latter determines arson, they hand it over to the former, but they’re usually fairly clearly marked.

  • C-rad October 3, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    He’s just wearing a vest that says “police arson/bomb’. So I assume spd

  • Bradley October 3, 2015 (5:00 pm)

    That house has been trouble with a capital “T” for many years (this is on our street). Sad to see that it’s still troubled in it’s vacant state.

  • flimflam October 3, 2015 (5:15 pm)

    this may not be popular, but if this is related to squatting this incident is directly resulting from the city’s current attitude towards the homeless/campers/squatters – that it is somehow inhumane to enforce existing laws.

    this should not be allowed to happen and puts innocent people at risk and in harms’ way.

  • Allison October 3, 2015 (5:39 pm)

    Just walked over with my dog. Yeah, no car like I thought earlier. From what I gathered from the neighbor, the house is foreclosed and the grandson of the owner was squatting inside. The rest of the family was on the scene and left about 10 minutes after I arrived. The neighbor said the squatter fled but was picked up at Westwood Village. I did hear the word suicide as the head of the bomb squad and other SPD were talking to the family. These aren’t hard facts though, just what I heard about 5 mins ago! Glad no one was seriously hurt.

  • Concerned October 3, 2015 (9:06 pm)

    We’ve called a posted number (no longer posted) on the residence several times over the past few months. The garbage accumulating out front has been a consistent problem that no one has addressed.

    We agree with “FlimFlam” there is a level of accountability that needs to be taken for providing squatters refuge within communities. It is absolutely unacceptable to allow concerned complaints about a single location to go unheard for this long.

    • WSB October 3, 2015 (9:24 pm)

      The DPD page linked in the story cites “enforced compliance” regarding the violation notice over storage, broken windows, etc. If it’s not in compliance – report it again. http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/makeacomplaint … City inspectors do respond – on matters some might consider less vital, such as hedges jutting over sidewalks. But they don’t just go out and check for violations that have not been reported – they have to get a complaint first. Also, for nuisance houses, the Community Police Team and city attorney Precinct Liaison have gotten involved. CPT officers’ numbers are on the precinct website. You might also consider contacting the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, which itself is not an enforcing body but has helped neighborhoods navigate the waters, most recently a stretch of South Delridge which has had recurring trouble with squatters and crime. WWRHAH meets next Tuesday (6:15 pm, SW Library) – TR

  • Eric October 4, 2015 (5:26 am)

    Wow, I live fairly close to this house ( a block over and a block up) and didn’t realize it was a problem house with squatters. That is concerning. So where is their next residency, the vacant house on the corner of Barton across from the park? I wish people wouldn’t give money to the people begging at Westwood. It’s the same faces, so it is obvious that these people are sticking around the area. We’re also getting people putting up residency in their RV‘s on 29th, the wide street right above Target between Henderson and Barton.

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