UPDATE: Abandoned building burns at 16th/Barton

9:56 PM: SFD is sendng a “full response” to 16th/Barton for a structure fire. It’s in what’s reported to be a vacant building. Updates to come.

(Added: Video by Nick Nielson)

10 PM: Firefighters report they’ve “knocked down” the fire. Avoid the area for a while.

(Added: Texted photo)

10:08 PM: SFD is using “derelict building” guidelines. Meantime, the overview photo added above shows this is the old building on the northwest corner – Google Street View shows it with addresses 9059 and 9061 16th SW.

(Added: Photo by Nick Nielson)

10:28 PM: City Light has arrived to shut down power to the building (which is a century old, according to property records). City records show a “notice of violation” was in progress after a recent complaint which said in part, “This vacant building is always full of garbage, rats, covered in graffiti, and poses a fire hazard.”

(Added: Photo by Michael Riedel)

10:50 PM: Sent to us by readers, this Ring security-camera clip shows the fire starting to show from the south side of the building just as someone walks out of one of the front (east-facing) doors.

11:44 PM: All but three SFD units have left the scene.

10:40 AM MONDAY: Still waiting for word of the cause, but we went over this morning for a look at the aftermath.

11:31 AM: From SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo: “Our fire investigators ruled it as undetermined because they were unable to enter the building due to safety concerns. Per procedure for undetermined fires, we have shared this information with SPD’s Arson and Bomb Squad for followup.”

44 Replies to "UPDATE: Abandoned building burns at 16th/Barton"

  • miws September 26, 2021 (10:00 pm)

    I’m a few doors north of Barton, below street level so can’t see what’s on fire, but I just opened the door and the smoke is terrible. I’m glad I already had the windows closed since this is bad for my diseased lungs. — Mike

  • J September 26, 2021 (10:03 pm)

    It smells awful

  • What’s happening WC September 26, 2021 (10:06 pm)

    If it’s the vacant building on the NW corner I walked by the other day and saw windows and the barriers broken out showing people were getting in. I though to myself “That place is going to burn down soon”. I hope no one is hurt. 

    • DH September 27, 2021 (7:03 am)

      I had the same experience about two weeks ago. It was obvious that it was being occupied. Can’t say I thought it would burn down but I’m not surprised in the least. 

  • Ron M September 26, 2021 (10:10 pm)

    Lots of fires in that area recently, curious to know what caused this one. 

    • B September 26, 2021 (10:39 pm)

      One of our neighbors on the ring app posted a person leaving the building right before the fire started – the window to the left shows the fire staring to burn. I hope the authorities investigate this thoroughly!

      • Empm September 27, 2021 (12:33 pm)

        Forgive the obvious question, but did someone alert SPD to this video? It seems pretty obvious some sort of human activity contributed to this fire,  intentional or not. 

        • WSB September 27, 2021 (1:00 pm)

          Multiple people told us SPD/SFD were provided with the link.

  • mem September 26, 2021 (10:11 pm)

    Is it the abandoned pink duplex on the NW corner of Barton and 16th?

    • WSB September 26, 2021 (10:22 pm)


  • Canton September 26, 2021 (10:19 pm)

    Wow, you had this news before the sirens even stopped. Great reporting, on top of it as always. 

  • Kb September 26, 2021 (10:26 pm)

    Honestly, that place is a total menace and I’m not surprised at all. It’s been a vacant shambles for years and the owners should be shamed and prosecuted to inflicting this trash heap on our neighborhood. Good riddance! 

    • DH September 27, 2021 (7:10 am)

      Yes, the fire was unfortunate but it was clearly known to be a occupied and nothing was done. If this is what it takes to get some action on buildings like this then so be it I guess? 

      • alki_2008 October 1, 2021 (1:18 am)

        You mean the property owner should evict and kick out the people using that building as a residence?  The city doesn’t allow that.  Do you support eviction moratoriums?

  • WhiteCenter September 26, 2021 (10:32 pm)

    Someone posted a video on Ring Neighborhood of the building with the fire showing through a window, then someone walks out the front door as the fire gets bigger. I sure hope that person shares it with police!

  • Erika H September 26, 2021 (10:36 pm)

    For those on the Ring app, there is a video posted of the fire starting. You can see someone causally walking out the front door, as the fire starts.

  • No name September 26, 2021 (10:43 pm)

    Just saw an amublance leaving from that general direction headed away with its lights on. Did anyone see a person get loaded into it, or was it reaponding to something else?

  • Empm September 26, 2021 (10:43 pm)

    We drove by this the other day and commented “this will burn down next” as two people climbed through the window. Next question is how long will this burned out building sit there before it’s torn down? 

  • AmyC September 26, 2021 (10:44 pm)

    This came across in the Neighbors app from Ring…you see a person walking, somewhat casually it would appear at first glance, out the front door of that building before the fire really erupts.https://neighbors.ring.com/n/VQrmXa1fgz

    • WSB September 26, 2021 (10:56 pm)

      Yeah, couple people sent that to us and I’ve added it above.

  • ~hockeywitch~ September 26, 2021 (10:59 pm)

    Hmmmm, that’s not suspicious at all (sarcasm), Fire just happens to start as someone walks out the door. Hope they can locate that person.

  • MARIANNE September 27, 2021 (5:49 am)

    I fed feral cats in the yard there for many years.  Relieved that they are not in there as they have all since died.  They used the building for shelter too.

    • annaeileen September 27, 2021 (8:12 am)

      When I read about the fire I was worried about the cats as I knew you took care of them. I  am relieved as well to know they have passed on. 

    • KM September 27, 2021 (2:13 pm)

      Thank you so much for caring for the ferals!

  • Jay September 27, 2021 (8:50 am)

    What’s up with all the vacant buildings? It’s not like property isn’t valuable. I remember for a long time there was a literal crack house on the hill going up California Ave with a beautiful sunset view over the sound. Camp fires on the front porch, no door, prime location. Is it just investors parking money? There needs to be a crackdown on urban blight. If someone is just sitting on property they own, the city should give them the option of putting it on the market or seizing it via eminent domain and either auctioning it off or turning it into something that adds value to the community like a park or community center.

    • J September 27, 2021 (1:41 pm)

      Yeah this is the thing nobody wants to talk about.How is it these properties continue ro sit empty for years when there’s a supposed shortage? Why are there no penalties for this? I guarantee you that building owner was approached multiple times a month by prospective businesses. While we’re all sitting here with our “who cares” vapid idiotic responses, maybe bother to propose actual solutions. There’s no excuse for allowing the hoarding of natural resources like this. That property could have been put to good use. 

      • Hmmm September 27, 2021 (5:27 pm)

        With these vacant buildings there could be a variety of reasons: If investor/developer owned they may be waiting for plans apporoval and permitting from the city or debt/equity financing. Or there may be a cleanup issue. If individual owner unwilling to sell, it could be because they are facing a huge capital gains tax that they figure they will just leave it to their heirs when they die.  (Their costs to carry are probably low enough to do that.) I honestly can’t blame them for that. If the bldg is derelict enough, you can report it to the city. I did so recently myself. Owners should at least secure their properties. 

        • Yep September 27, 2021 (7:28 pm)

          The city has only in the last couple years allowed demo permits to be issued before full building permits. (Some permits are still under the previous system). This cleared the way for a lot of demo permits but I wouldn’t expect all the buildings like these to be torn down immediately. The money for demo is often tied (by banks or investors) to the receipt of building permits. 

      • alki_2008 October 1, 2021 (1:33 am)

        @J — How can you “guarantee” such a thing?  Commercial vacancies are suffering during the pandemic. And that area is not a prime location. A business would have to spend a lot of money building out that space to make it useful.  Not to mention the property is zoned LR3 RC and RC means “Permitted commercial uses are allowed only in structures containing at least one dwelling unit or live-work unit, according to the development standards of Section 23.46.012.”

  • End Of The Line September 27, 2021 (9:40 am)

    I thought I saw on the news this morning there was going to be a community meeting in White Center re: arson but I can’t find details anywhere. Do you know anything about that?

    • WSB September 27, 2021 (10:34 am)

      Nothing on our radar. WC is somewhat decentralized but I’ll ask a few contacts who’d be most likely to know.

    • I September 27, 2021 (11:57 am)

      (Original post from last week)Meet Jaedra; she owns Bizzarro Italian Restaurant. Her business along with Huong Xua Deli and Full Tilt Ice Cream were affected by the recent fire that devastated Locker Room Tavern. As a community we are sad, hurt and angry! We are holding a town meeting on Monday, September 27th at 12p Mac’s Triangle Pub. All business owners and community are invited!

  • Hold the Owner Accountable September 27, 2021 (10:27 am)

    Now the irresponsible property owner can collect insurance! Probably their goal. This is the problem. Property owners need to be held accountable for their property. If it sits in disrepair and homeless people are living in it, it should fall back on the owner. Ridiculous. It’s a stain on the neighborhood. 

    • Ice September 27, 2021 (4:23 pm)

      I have the feeling that no insurance company would have touched this property with a 10 foot pole, but I have no real idea what I am talking about.

  • AdmyralByrd September 27, 2021 (11:30 am)

    Wondering if arson is cheaper than demolition these days and whether – if said property “were” to burn down, does that change the scope or accelerate the timelines for the permitting process – which I’m guessing – is the reason most of these properties stay vacant as a nuisance.

    • WSB September 27, 2021 (12:30 pm)

      (a) Most of the recent fires are in the unincorporated area, not the city, so entirely different processes. This one’s in the city and there is no proposal on record for any kind of redevelopment. Just complaints & citations, which is an entirely different angle (pursuing).

  • Cozy September 27, 2021 (2:40 pm)

    Hope no one was inside, trying to find shelter from the storm, and harmed by the fire.

  • Betsy September 28, 2021 (1:33 pm)

    Property owner also owns a few other properties nearby.  Look it up on King County Assessor Property search. I wonder if anyone else with Ring on the block caught the person walking North after “he” left the building?  

  • Highland Park Resident October 2, 2021 (8:21 am)

    Is there any update on this? Has the fire department determined a cause? 

    • WSB October 2, 2021 (10:12 am)

      As noted above, the cause was ruled undetermined. They referred it to the SPD Arson Bomb Squad but SPD had nothing to report when I checked with them later in the week.

  • mem October 3, 2021 (3:28 pm)

    Property listed for $699,990 as of September 30th- 3 days after the fire. 

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