(Added: WSB photo outside Findlay side of scene)
11:13 AM: Thanks for the tips. There’s both a full-response Seattle Fire Department turnout and what appears to be a SWAT callout near 42nd SW and SW Findlay. Avoid the area. We are on our way to find out more.
11:16 AM: Our crew headed north to the scene can see black smoke and flames even from some distance away.
(Photo courtesy Heather Fitzpatrick)
The King County Sheriff’s Office confirms it’s their SWAT team and is sending a public-information officer. You’ll see/hear at least one TV helicopter in the area shortly.
11:22 AM: Also avoid California in that area, as it’s blocked off and more SFD equipment is on the way. This house is right on Findlay – our crew, just arrived, says it’s the one at the southwest corner of 42nd and Findlay that you might know for the old vehicles parked outside.
Here’s what Rasmus Rasmussen recorded a short time ago:
Here’s my report from the fire in West Seattle. Cc @westseattleblog @KING5Seattle @komonews pic.twitter.com/zkDWmwH5U9
— Rasmus Rasmussen (@theprint) May 11, 2018
(Video courtesy Rasmus Rasmussen, who narrates)
11:34 AM: SFD has just upsized this to a two-alarm fire. They also have a public-information officer at the scene so we should find out more soon. The sheriff’s SWAT arrival preceded the fire – we had just been getting tips about it and were starting to head that way when we got word of the fire callout.
(Video courtesy Bruce Butterfield)
11:47 AM: Commenter says at least one citywide reported this had to do with the eviction. KCSO is the agency accountable for those, though not usually with SWAT teams. We cross-referenced court records and have found documents confirming that today was the deadline for a person whose address was shown at that house to get out; the action was filed by the estate of the owner, apparently a relative. Researching more. Again, avoid California/Findlay/42nd – California is blocked north to Brandon.
NOON: There’s also a power outage in the area – wires are down because of the fire. Not on the City Light map so far.
12:15 PM: Now the outage is mapped – 1,595 homes/businesses.
Meantime, the fire is mostly out. (added) We just talked to SFD. They say the fire started in the basement and spread to the rest of the house. They also say KCSO had warned them there might be ammunition in the house. Since the fire is mostly out, they and SWAT will be going in soon to find out if anyone was inside.
12:30 PM: Here’s what KCSO just told WSB’s Christopher Boffoli: The SWAT team was there to try to evict the resident because 24 firearms were registered to the residence. They did NOT fire any shots nor use any incendiary devices. Neighbors hadn’t seen the resident – the son of the house’s now-deceased owner – since December. He was to be evicted because the house was to be sold. Officers had tried to get in by piercing the screen door, and KCSO says that’s when they realized the house was on fire. They don’t know yet if the man, in his 50s, was inside. (added) SFD meantime tells us the fire went to a second alarm not because of its size but because it was a complicated situation.
12:55 PM: KCSO is gearing up with breathing masks to go inside the house. They also tell us that there was some indication the 51-year-old man had mental-health challenges, so they had brought a mental-health professional with them when they arrived to try the eviction.
1:13 PM: KCSO confirms a body has been found. Meantime, we’re continuing to read the court documents associated with the eviction case. The 51-year-old son of the owner was originally ordered to leave more than a year ago – April 30, 2017. Also: A drone will be used at the scene soon to “evaluate for hazards,” according to scanner traffic.
1:59 PM: The Sheriff’s Office also says that it won’t be the one to confirm whether the body is that of the house’s resident and eviction target; that will be up to the Medical Examiner. KCSO is saying only that the dead person is a man. They will remain on scene investigating, with help from SFD and SPD.
2:18 PM: California is back open. The power is back on in the area, too. Those, we have verified in person; via scanner, we hear that authorities have set up a “hot zone” around the house while continuing to investigate what’s inside it. Also, added above the 12:30 pm update is Christopher’s video of the briefing given at that time. (added) KCSO says via Twitter that “an explosive device was located inside the house,” therefore the extra caution.
2:52 PM: An update from KCSO – never mind, it was NOT an explosive device:
UPDATE#2 There is NO EXPLOSIVE device in the residence. On further exam, BDU personnel were able to determine the device they found was not explosive. They are continuing to search the house at this point with machines until they are sure it is safe for Deputies to go in.
— KingcosoPIO (@kingcosoPIO) May 11, 2018
3:15 PM: Elaborating at the scene, KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Jason Houck says the alleged “device” turned out to be a CD case with a bunch of wires. Meantime, as the investigation will continue for some hours, side streets in the area including SW Findlay will remain closed TFN.
4:01 PM: No further updates. KCSO and SFD were downsizing the scene at last report; we’ll be going back over in about half an hour to check on the status of things. Meantime, some lingering after-effects of the earlier power outage – West Seattle Nursery, at California/Brandon, says its phones and registers are continuing to have some trouble so while they’re open, you might consider waiting until tomorrow instead of visiting today.
4:24 PM: KCSO has just sent a news release. We’ve reported everything in it, but in case you’d like to see it all in one place … here it is. (A few minutes later …) And here’s the SFD news release.
6:31 PM: Stopped back at the scene a while ago. Findlay is open; 42nd was still blocked. Firefighters are still on site:
Below those two, the burned house was partly visible through the shrubbery along Findlay:
The old vehicles, still parked along the alley, apparently undamaged.
ADDED SATURDAY: We received this photo from Dan, who says this is some of what KCSO brought out of the house Friday night:
We’re reaching out to KCSO with followup questions, though we might not hear back until Monday.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: We did just hear back from KCSO Sgt. Houck – but he says reports with the full tally of what was found won’t be available until Monday.
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