UPDATE: 3-alarm fire in downtown White Center

(Added: Video by @houndoomer on Twitter. Language caution)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 5:44 AM: Another big fire callout in downtown White Center, and Seattle Fire units from West Seattle are being sent to help. 16th SW is being blocked south of Roxbury. We’re on our way to find out more.

(WSB/WCN photos/video)

5:58 AM: As our first photo shows, the logged address is correct – the old Locker Room Tavern at 9633 16th SW, damaged by fire back in April.

6:10 AM: No word yet if anyone was injured, or if the adjacent businesses are damaged.

(Video added)
This is the third major commercial-building fire in White Center in a little over two months, after the July 5th fire that gutted seven businesses a bit further north on 16th SW (ruled arson) and the fire at the old Atlas Electric building on September 1st (still under investigation).

6:18 AM: The fire’s not out yet – still visible flames and smoke inside the building.

6:34 AM: Public-information officers on scene say this is a 3-alarm fire – they’ve called in the extra help because of the proximity of other businesses. (video added, briefing by PIO Pat Pawlak:)

They’re working to try to keep it from spreading to the adjacent businesses (Bizzarro Italian Café to the south, Huong Xua Deli to the north). No injuries reported.

8:07 AM: After a break to return to HQ to upload video, our crew is back at the fire scene. Some of the responding units have been dismissed. We talked to a Bizzarro Italian Café rep, who says they’re closed Mondays anyway so they’ll be evaluating any effects. Same goes for Full Tilt Ice Cream two doors down – owner Justin Cline tells us there’s some water damage but they’re also usually closed Mondays, so they have time to deal with it. 16th, meantime, is likely to stay closed another two hours or so.

9:04 AM: Lot of cleanup to be done inside Huong Xua (above). Meantime, more than three hours after the fire started, firefighters are still on scene:

12:08 PM: 16th SW has reopened.

12:35 PM: We just checked back with Fire District spokesperson Shauna Sheppard: No cause determined yet.

1:31 PM: Another update from Sheppard: Early indications are that the fire was NOT deliberately set, but the investigation continues.

8:56 PM: We went by tonight; Bizzarro (whose website says they’ll be closed “a few weeks”) and Huong Xua are both boarded up, and the Locker Room is simply rubble. A commenter posted this link to a crowdfunding page for the Locker Room’s proprietors, saying they were about to start rebuilding from the April fire damage.

47 Replies to "UPDATE: 3-alarm fire in downtown White Center"

  • me on 28th Ave SW September 13, 2021 (5:49 am)

    As I was walking to the bus at 5:30 I turned to look towards Mount Rainier. This morning I saw a huge pillar of black smoke and I could even see intermittent glow of flames at the base.  Then I heard the sirens. This is heartbreaking.

  • scrowley September 13, 2021 (5:56 am)

    I can smell the smoke in Arbor Heights.

  • Ada September 13, 2021 (6:00 am)

    Is someone trying to burn down that block? This is terrible. I hope no one is injured.

  • J Beall September 13, 2021 (6:12 am)

    It must be bad.  I woke up to the smell about 40 blocks away. 

  • Greystreet September 13, 2021 (6:23 am)

    What is happening on this street :( when so many places are trying to get back on their feet, this is so sad.

  • Arbor heights resident September 13, 2021 (6:32 am)

    The smell of smoke or something burning woke me up this morning. I thought something in my house was on fire. Sad to see this area hit by fire again.

  • J Beall September 13, 2021 (6:32 am)

    Black, thick smoke. It’s still on fire.  I hear chainsaw’s going on 15th Ave SW.  

  • anonyme September 13, 2021 (6:52 am)

    Was there ever a determination made as to the cause of the July 5th fires?  It does seem a bit coincidental that this block was has burned again.

    • WSB September 13, 2021 (7:07 am)

      Yes, as reported a few days later, that was arson, as yet unsolved. The September 1st fire on 17th remains under investigation. The April fire at this same location was ruled accidental, started by a careless smoker.

      • Just Curious September 13, 2021 (10:51 am)

        They public and news outlets ran wild with the april fire being a hate crime. They raised money based on them being a target and victims if a hate crime. Since it was in fact just a careless smoker, is anyone held liable for promoting false claims to collect money from the public? 

        • WSB September 13, 2021 (11:28 am)

          No, the arson to which you refer was the JULY fire that destroyed seven other businesses, NOT the April fire at this particular business.

    • Tristan September 13, 2021 (10:41 am)

      Not saying this is a fact, but it sure feels like someone has something against small local businesses.

  • Chuck Jacobs September 13, 2021 (7:06 am)

    “Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.”

    • Boinsted September 13, 2021 (7:21 am)

      It is too soon for levity – however I do agree we need to find this person(s). Between this and the woman last night setting recyclables/garbage ablaze in West Seattle it has been a concerning 24 hours. 

      • WSB September 13, 2021 (7:33 am)

        What ‘recyclables/garbage” fire(s) are you referring to? I just went back through the entire last 30 hours of SFD’s log and am not seeing even a small callout of that type anywhere in West Seattle – is it something that wasn’t called in?

        • Emma September 13, 2021 (8:09 am)

          Someone posted about it on the Ring app. Case ID = 21-240213

          • Mike September 13, 2021 (10:16 am)

            This person spent the entire summer sleeping in Hiawatha near the kids play area and tennis courts.

        • JES September 13, 2021 (8:33 am)

          I saw it reported on my Ring app.

          • WSB September 13, 2021 (8:41 am)

            Thanks, too many apps/platforms that are only visible to members .. anyway, that is classified on the SFD log as “investigate/out of service.”

            Anyway, again since I know people get confused reading comment threads sometimes, there is NO word yet on what caused this morning’s White Center fire. Investigators won’t be able to get into the building until the fire’s out. – TR

          • Boinsted September 13, 2021 (10:28 am)

            Thanks to the commenters above for highlighting the RING notifications from yesterday as that is what I was referring to in my prior comment. I went back out last night to bring in my loose cardboard – just in case. 

          • MrsT September 13, 2021 (9:49 am)

            The woman who threw the brick through the window at Shadowland walked off nonchalantly also. Coincidence?

  • Dustin September 13, 2021 (8:35 am)

    I’ve often found it remarkable how much better the journalism is at this site than many of the supposedly traditional news outlets. The Times had almost nothing on this when I checked this morning. Thank you for consistently providing the only reliable news source for this area. That said, I’m so sorry to see another fire in White Center. It has been difficult to watch the neighborhood get gutted this year, particularly considering some of the fires may have been set as intentional acts of violence, and the possibility, since the July case was unsolved, that more may be on the way.

    • WSB September 13, 2021 (8:57 am)

      Thanks. And huge thanks to the first person who texted us this morning … there are a few hours in the very early morning when both of us are off watch and 5:30 am usually falls during that time, so we REALLY appreciated the alert.

      • Robert J Schmidt September 14, 2021 (3:09 pm)

        Ditto here. Good work boys and girls.

  • Ian September 13, 2021 (9:45 am)

    I am heartbroken. As much as I am for the reformation/progression of what the police should be as we move forward, pretending that the presence of an authority does not prevent events like this is naive. Something to think about, if this is indeed arson. 

  • Raine D September 13, 2021 (10:14 am)

    Is it worth going to help out at the deli? I feel so bad for these small business owners.

    • Ron M September 13, 2021 (10:57 am)

      I’d love to help as well. They have some of the best banh mi in Seattle and they are very friendly.

      • Greg September 13, 2021 (11:47 am)

        Banh mi sandwiches there are so good.  I love them.  Sometimes I cant stop thinking about them.

  • Scubafrog September 13, 2021 (10:28 am)

    This is so awful, I hope cameras  and/or eye-witnesses catch whoever’s lighting these (presumably the same perp?), and the put the criminal(s) away.  These businesses are so hard-won, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to ruin them.  People’s livelihoods are being taken away, and it’s only a matter of time until someone’s hurt or worse.   Covid naturally compounds losing one’s business circa 2021.  Unthinkable.

  • Derek September 13, 2021 (11:25 am)

    What is going on??! Is someone trying to end night life in that block? It’s one of the truly few LGBT friendly neighborhoods left in town that have a queer scene. So disappointing. 

  • David September 13, 2021 (12:29 pm)

    I’m hoping the community will rally around to support Huong Xua Bakery, the way they did with the arson at the Lumber Yard and Dottie’s Double Wide.  It seemed like money was quickly raised to help a couple of hipster bars in the neighborhood (which was good!), but let’s be sure to realize that damage done to the immigrant family that owns the banh mi shop deserves the same level of attention from the community.

    • helpermonkey September 13, 2021 (2:30 pm)

      David, the community rallied around ALL of the businesses that were damaged, not just the “hipster bars” – there was a whole day of fundraising, streets shut down, music, food, etc in addition to the Go Fund Me’s for every business that was affected. I hope you can put your money where your mouth is and contribute to help these businesses.     

  • Heather September 13, 2021 (1:16 pm)

    Did they catch the arsonist who burned down the old funeral home in White Center?  Im wondering if all these fires could be related.  Someone is very unhappy in White Center and hopefully they will be caught. 

    • WSB September 13, 2021 (1:42 pm)

      Yes, the Yarington’s arsonist was arrested. To recap the other fires:
      -This location’s first fire, April 2021 – accidental
      -Lumber Yard Bar & other businesses, July 2021 – arson
      -Former Atlas Electric on 17th, September 2021 – still under investigation
      -This location, today – still under investigation but (as updated above) early indications are that it was NOT deliberately set

      • momosmom September 13, 2021 (3:33 pm)

        Today’s fire NOT deliberately set but accidentally? Either way whoever accidentally set it must be caught and charged don’t you think?

      • Graciano September 13, 2021 (4:48 pm)

        The Atlas Electric burned back on Oct 2019, that was ruled ARSON.Brush fire  on 107th and 14th Ave SW  March 2019, that was ARSON. 

        • WSB September 13, 2021 (8:21 pm)

          The early 2019 fire at 14th/107th was the same arsonist as Yarington’s, Matthew Robert-David Hicks. He was never charged in that. Last May he was sentenced to 13 months for the Yarington’s fire; he had already been in jail 301 days, so he’s apparently completed his sentence since then, as he is not on the DOC, KCJ, or SCORE rosters.

          • Jissy September 13, 2021 (8:26 pm)

            Hmmmm, so he’s out and been out in the time frame the last 2 fires have taken place, I think someone needs to track this guy down !

          • WSB September 13, 2021 (8:51 pm)

            He’s under community custody supervision so theoretically that means he’s reporting to a corrections officer regularly.

  • m September 13, 2021 (1:33 pm)

    David – There were 7 businesses destroyed by the July fire, impacting all of those business owners and employees. The crowdfund and benefit event helped all of them, not just 2 “hipster bars.” And, of course, the community should rally to support Huong Xua Bakery as well.

  • Darren September 13, 2021 (5:06 pm)

    According to King 5, improperly discarded smoking material was the cause of the fire today. 

    • WSB September 13, 2021 (5:46 pm)

      Nope. Just called Shauna Sheppard again, about the sixth time we’ve talked to her today. Cause as yet undetermined.

  • Katie September 13, 2021 (8:23 pm)

    Hi- I’d like to please share the Gofund me for the The Locker Room.  After 2 fires this is heartbreaking to the family run business.!  https://www.gofundme.com/f/locker-room-fire?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

    • WSB September 13, 2021 (8:56 pm)

      Thanks. We’ll add to the story above and report separately on our White Center site. Hope someone will let us know if anything is set up for Huong Xua – a search so far hasn’t turned up anything, They and Bizzarro are both boarded up now.

  • James September 13, 2021 (9:05 pm)

    Kinda of confused, how does a already burned out business have any kind of fire that is not set? and at 6 in the morning? I’m not an arson investigator, Oh wait I was for 20 years. The odds of this many fires in such close proximity seems  more than strange.  Most of the times comes down to money or thrills. 

  • anonyme September 14, 2021 (8:29 am)

    There can be many motives for arson.  It is extremely irresponsible to immediately assume that any or all of these are hate crimes.  It might be prudent to wait for the investigations to be complete before donating money.

  • Dogmeat September 26, 2021 (7:17 am)

    Thank you for using my clip! :)

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