READER REPORT: Two early morning Honey Bucket fires

(Reader photo)

SUNDAY REPORT: Early today, two portable restrooms were burned in fires less than a mile apart, both around 5 am. We found out about this from Greta, who lives near the one off the alley on the west side of the 3400 block of California (top photo shows the aftermath):

I’m wanting to report this to you primarily to focus on safety. There is construction happening at the home next door to us. The house is vacant and they have a Honey Bucket on site for workers. This is what was set alight. There was no lock on the door. The other fire on 51st and Dakota was also a sanican set alight. Someone is doing this in our neighborhood. Terrifying fact really.

I awoke to the noise of crackling. Then my sniffer caught the smell of the smoke. I immediately got out of bed to look out the adjoining bedroom window and there it was. A fire was burning with an unbelievable pace. The flames were at least 8ft tall. Part of the fence that was behind the Honey Bucket was already gone. Our neighbors truck with the gas tank facing the fire was parked only 2 feet from this! Incredibly it didn’t catch fire, just bubbled the paint and the plastic of the taillights. I woke my husband up immediately and called 911. The fire department was here in under 5 minutes! My husband in a flash was outside trying fast to hook back up the hose. Unfortunately from us leaving it outside there was a hole in it. We used it anyway on the fire. me holding the tightest grip over the hole, while my husband Jeff faced the flames. Very scary for what could have been an awful outcome. We are safe, the neighbors are safe, and my many thanks to our incredible Seattle firefighters. It made me quite emotional after they put the fire out and watching them drive away. Also very thankful that it started to rain. They were incredible and are incredible. I have a huge admiration for them!

So this may want to be posted for future safety in our community. There is a possible arson here. … I think it’s important to lock up these sanicans, so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen. Fires spread fast! I’m so thankful that it wasn’t next to the house!

We went out looking for the 51st/Dakota scene and found this on 51st just north of Dakota:

We have an inquiry out to SFD but haven’t heard back and at this point don’t expect to hear back until tomorrow, so we don’t have any information yet on the investigation. (There is a police report logged for the California alley fire – 24-039339.) We’ll also be asking if there’s any suspicion these are related to two fires one week ago, including one that damaged a vacant house near 36th/Oregon and was determined to have been deliberately set.

MONDAY UPDATE: SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo tells us, “Our investigators consulted with crews that responded to both incidents and ruled the cause of both fires as undetermined.”

14 Replies to "READER REPORT: Two early morning Honey Bucket fires"

  • Oerthehillz February 11, 2024 (8:24 pm)

    Unlocked door on the portapotty too? I read these can be pretty explosive due to flammable chemicals contained inside and should be kept locked when unattended. We’re very lucky it didn’t turn out much worse. Thank you savvy neighbors!

    • 937 February 12, 2024 (9:41 am)

      Construction guy here…. What “flammable chemicals” are you speaking of? NOTHING in them is readily combustible… Except maybe some methane and hydrogen sulfide (but in small enough quantities to be negligible)

      Calm the histrionics – this was/these appear to be an accelerated arson – worry about the firebugs – not the units.

      FWIW, I keep ALL my units unlocked and available for public use. There is nothing worse than about to have an emergency and coming across a locked unit. It’s akin to finding a water fountain in the HOT desert with a out of order sign.

    • Greta February 12, 2024 (12:22 pm)

      My reply regarding the chemicals. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the sanican that completely burned to the ground next to my house. An accelerant was definitely used here. Not the simple solution that is added into the tank. We had a chance to look at our neighbors camera. However  it was quite a distance away. Unfortunately we could not identify any person. We do see smoke appearing around 4:52am. Quickly followed by the glow from the flames in under 10 minutes! I was on the phone at 5:03am and then fighting it with my husband right after my call. The sanican wasn’t even standing at this point! Only the remains of its plastic base, with the fence and a yard waste bin were completely caught on fire too. So this was deliberately set. WSB have you been notified from SFD on any other information on these 2 fires? This has me rattled understandably. Things can happen so fast…in a blink of an eye, everything could be gone. Thank you WSB again for relaying my message. PLEASE lock up your sanicans at night! It’s for all our best SAFETY. 

  • Alki resident February 11, 2024 (9:56 pm)

    Construction companies need to lock these at nite plain and simple. Very scary

    • K February 12, 2024 (6:59 am)

      A lock won’t stop this from happening.  It’s a plastic box, if someone wants to destroy it, they can destroy it.

  • Admiral-2009 February 11, 2024 (10:25 pm)

    I don’t want to see the porta potties locked, the ones in the public right of way provide a respite for many people. 

    • Alki resident February 12, 2024 (7:37 am)

      They’re there to provide relief for the workers. Safety protocols need to be in place for obvious reasons. A few years ago a body was found in one at a Burien park, he overdosed. Do you want a child opening a port a potty and seeing that? Fires hazard is bad enough. 

      • Jort February 13, 2024 (8:26 pm)

        Ah, yes, because one time, one person overdosed and died in a porta-potty, we should require all porta-potties, everywhere, for eternity to be constantly locked in case a child opened it and saw another person who overdosed and died. Yes. Sounds like some common-sense government regulations. Great idea. Really practical and also — who will think of the children?!

    • Anne February 12, 2024 (8:14 am)

      Don’t think you need to worry -doubt there is enough manpower to go out & lock up every public Honey Bucket at night-then unlock them all in the mornings.the Honey Buckets at construction sites are a different matter. 

    • Question Authority February 12, 2024 (8:46 am)

      They may be temporarily sited in the Right of Way but they are not there, or payed for by you or the general public.   Thinking it’s there for you is like bringing your own trash to throw in a rented site construction dumpster.  They need locks to prevent more than arson, and maybe less entitlement.

    • Elton February 12, 2024 (8:58 am)

      This one doesn’t appear to be public, it looks to be rented by a private construction company.

  • Suzanne February 12, 2024 (12:31 am)

    It astounds me how low some folks will go to destroy anything at all. I don’t know what the solution is  but really miss the days when West Seattle felt like a tight community filled with mostly good folks. That’s still mostly true but it is unnerving to know that there are just enough folks out there who really don’t care about anything other than cheap thrills or worse. 

    Very glad that no one was hurt in these two senseless acts of violence and harm.

    • K February 12, 2024 (12:42 pm)

      Arson is not a recent invention.  Maybe the West Seattle you remember from days of yore may have been a tight-knit community, but it was a tight-knit community with arsonists.

  • Admiral-2009 February 12, 2024 (11:09 am)

    QA – yes, but I doubt anyone would make a issue if a person used the facility as a one off!

Sorry, comment time is over.