UPDATE: 2-alarm fire in White Center

(Added: Video by Rob Jacobs, just before firefighters arrived)

FIRST REPORT, 8:44 AM: Thanks for the tips. There’s a big fire in White Center – the fire-response log says it’s a 2-alarm commercial fire near 17th SW and SW 98th [map]. Homes are being evacuated west of there. We’re on our way to find out more; avoid that area.

8:55 AM: We’re on scene. This is the long-vacant commercial building between the Gerber auto shop and dental office.

9:10 AM: No reports of injuries so far.

9:21 AM: We talked to firefighters at the scene, Most of this is “knocked down” but there’s one hot spot in debris inside the building that’s still smoldering, so that’s where their attention is now. They confirm no one is hurt. Meantime, checking property records, the exact address for the building is 9811 17th SW.

9:39 AM: The building’s past incarnations include Atlas Electric and the White Center News newspaper; it was listed for sale last year and sold early this year.

10:05 AM: Thanks to the readers who note this building also caught fire two years ago; we covered that on our partner site White Center Now – the 2019 fire was ruled arson, We’ll be checking back at today’s scene in a bit.

11 AM: Just back from there. Still smoldering; streets still blocked. The Gerber auto shop next door is closed while they assess potential damage, as the north end of their building is adjacent to the one that burned.

27 Replies to "UPDATE: 2-alarm fire in White Center"

  • Nick Hayward September 1, 2021 (8:48 am)

  • Melissa Lee Swetland September 1, 2021 (8:54 am)

    Smoke can be seen at 106th

  • FD Support 7 September 1, 2021 (9:01 am)

    I can see the Smoke my Quarters OOF 2-11 Alarm fire

  • Bud September 1, 2021 (9:21 am)

    Ok, people this building is well known to have homeless people living inside of it via a hole that they made in the wall of the building. Lots of druggies and homeless people hanging around the building doing drugs and living around the building. Thanks to the owner who has not torn down this building that has been an ongoing issue and problems for many years to the community and surrounding homes and businesses and has put the residents who live around the building at risk today due to the smoke. I hope no one in the surrounding business and homes were hurt or had to go to hospital due to breathing issues from smoke or illegal drugs that could have been made in this buildings that has been boarded up for years. 

    • WSB September 1, 2021 (10:13 am)

      The building changed hands in 2019 and again early this year.

    • Brian September 1, 2021 (10:55 am)

      Are you blaming the homeless for burning down a building? I’m just trying to be clear here. 

      • Auntie September 1, 2021 (11:39 am)

        It is certainly one possibility. Faulty wiring is unlikely if the power is off, so what explanation might you have?

      • flimflam September 1, 2021 (11:49 am)

        Of course it’s only speculation but there have been lots of homeless related fires in just the last month+ along I-5, in Ballard, Capitol Hill, etc  so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

  • RHP September 1, 2021 (9:28 am)

    Well I think my appointment will be re-scheduled 

  • Adrian September 1, 2021 (10:47 am)

    Finally that place is gone. druggies used to climb into the Gerber lot all the time. Broke into my car on Valentines Day. Maybe theyll put something cool there now. 

  • Gidget September 1, 2021 (11:11 am)

    Saw this on my way to the gym this morning. Hopefully no one was hurt. I am sure the surrounding businesses and residents will unfortunately have to deal with the smoke smell. The only good that can come out of this situation is, that the building will be torn down and therefore no longer be a crash pad for the druggies.

  • John September 1, 2021 (12:36 pm)

    This was another of the legendary Harvey Rowe’s West Seattle properties.  He hoarded houses and property for decades refusing to rent them out or keep them up.   Most of his notorious  SFR properties were sold several years ago with many of them torn down and  redeveloped as market rate housing, usually with added density.

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

    At some point, owners of vacant buildings are going to have to be held liable for what happens to their buildings. Leaving a building to rot and decay is bad for the entire community.  IF there were homeless people living in the building, why wasn’t the owner there trying to get rid of them?  its just laziness. 

    • jack September 1, 2021 (4:50 pm)

      Heather, all good points.  I just wish the City would enforce current laws regarding our Parks and open spaces too.

      • AMD September 1, 2021 (5:46 pm)

        This is in unincorporated King County.  The City has nothing to do with enforcement at this location.

    • Peter September 1, 2021 (6:43 pm)

      Good question to ask King County. Hopefully we see something of value built there. 

  • WSREZZ September 1, 2021 (1:34 pm)

    Sheeeesh. White Center can’t catch a break with these fires. good work though, fire dept.

  • Jeff Saily, Merry Maids September 1, 2021 (2:31 pm)

    Thank you to all involved who put this fire out and saved our building next door from any damage!  Our fire departments are awesome!

  • clark September 1, 2021 (5:35 pm)

    no kidding what is up with our neighborhood catching on fire 

  • ACG September 1, 2021 (8:48 pm)

    Just curious, which fire department responds to fires in White Center?  I’ve never noticed a county fire department station in WC. 

    • WSB September 1, 2021 (8:59 pm)

      The North Highline Fire District serves White Center and the rest of unincorporated NH. Their station is on SW 112th a few blocks east of Ambaum/16th

  • Alan September 1, 2021 (10:20 pm)

    I was sitting on the 8:45 ferry in Winslow, waiting for it to depart, when I saw a column of smoke over what I thought was West Seattle. I checked the Seattle 911, but they had nothing.  As a former Westie, I knew that my best source would be the West Seattle Blog. Sure enough, you were on it. I miss this quality of information over on Hood Canal.

    • waikikigirl September 2, 2021 (6:48 am)

      YES, the WSB is right on it, always and we are VERY lucky to have them!Maybe Alan you could start up the HCB??? :>)

  • Trevor September 2, 2021 (9:37 am)

    ‘Fire Center’ new name for our wonderful community.

  • SCOTT WALKER September 2, 2021 (10:37 am)

    Pretending it’s outrageous to suggest that the fire was caused by the homeless junkies living there is the outrageous part.  There was just an exposition on  Cloverdale recently from an RV with numerous canisters for cooking meth .  While I understand the frustration at the owners of building, maybe we should be more outraged at the many pleas for help that go ignored by this City.  As many of you know trying to get these  squatters out of building or even off the streets when there are obvious dangers from their labs has been  impossible.  Our parks have been stolen from us for public use.   The ‘encampment’ at Bitter Lake  is littered with needles that small kids have to walk by on public land that we pay taxes for and the city and Seattle Public Schools can’t figure out how to get them out of there.  In their last attempt in a camp of over 40 a total of 3 agreed to go to provided housing and seek help.

    • WSB September 2, 2021 (11:26 am)

      Going on an anti-city-government rant is absolutely irrelevant here – as someone has already noted upthread, this site is NOT in the city of Seattle. This is unincorporated King County. Local government reps include the King County Executive, King County Council, and King County Sheriff’s Office. – TR

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