West Seattle, Washington
9:56 PM: Seattle Fire now has a house-fire callout in the 5400 block of 18th SW. Updates to come.
9:59 PM: The incident log shows most of the originally dispatched units have been dismissed. We’re still heading over to see what we can find out.
10:30 PM: This is the second time in a little over three weeks that SFD has been called to 5431 18th SW – here’s our coverage of the July 19th call. As described last time, the house is in rundown condition, and an alleged squatter is living there. The damage/cause in this incident is still being evaluated – the SFD investigator is on scene, as are police, but we do know the fire’s out and no oe was hurt.
ADDED MONDAY: SFD says the cause was ruled “accidental” and since the house is vacant, there’s no dollar amount estimate for the damage done.
8:56 PM: Thanks for the tip. No, the SFD response in the beach area right now is NOT in the SPF30 festival zone – it’s for a brush fire “with exposure” (which usually means a structure potentially in danger) in the 3400 block of Beach Drive.
9:15 PM: The call has closed.
8:13 PM: Thanks to the texter who sent that photo of a car fire at the 35th/Barton 7-11. Seattle Fire is still on the scene, according to the incident log. No other details.
ADDED 11:43 PM: Thanks to Ben for sending the video:
As you can see, firefighters got it out quickly.
8:24 PM: Many are asking, so we’ve been sleuthing. Nothing working in our area, and it definitely wasn’t from the small fire we covered on Dumar Way earlier this evening. We HAVE found there’s a new wildfire in Mason County, on Harstine Island [map], and the smoke has been blowing in this direction – Gig Harbor, northeast of the fire area, is complaining – so that could be contributing. We’ll add anything more we find out.
WEDNESDAY MORNING NOTE: “Air resources” get thanks for slowing the spread of that fire, at 19 acres this morning.
6:33 PM: Seattle Fire sent a “full response” to the 7200 block of Dumar Way, near Delridge/Orchard [map]. We just got there (thanks to the person who called! we had missed it while out on something else) and some crews are packing up. Here’s what they tell us: The fire was confined to the house’s hot tub – how it caught fire is still being figured out. No injuries; Dumar is blocked in the area (between 16th and Orchard).
7:29 PM: The road is open again.
8:20 PM: Seattle Fire has sent a “full response” to what’s described as a vacant structure in the 5400 block of 18th SW [map]. First arrivals report light smoke.
8:32 PM: Some of the responding units are being dismissed.
8:52 PM: Talked to SFD at the scene. They say the fire was in a box of items inside the house. Not a big fire but the house was already in “dilapidated” shape so it looks worse than it was. The rest of the SFD units are now being dismissed.
9:41 PM: That’s the aftermath of a dumpster fire on the east side of the Harbor Avenue 7-11. The response was big enough to attract a lot of attention because of the building exposure, so that’s why we went to check it out, but Engine 29 had gotten there quickly, we were told, so there was no major damage, and no one was hurt. Investigators believe it was started by a “hot cigarette lighter” thrown into the dumpster – whether accidental or deliberate, they didn’t say, so we’ll be checking back.
10:14 PM: SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley says it was determined to have been accidental. “Estimated loss is $500 to receptacle and $10,000 to building.”
2:02 AM: First crews arriving say it’s a fully engulfed 2-story house and they’re calling a second alarm. Side note – this is a difficult area to reach, up a hillside dead-end. It’s close to our HQ … but there are dead-ends here on top of the hill too.
2:14 AM: Via scanner, scene commander reports most of the fire has been “knocked down” – and she is referring to the dead-end street as she instructs some of the extra units on where to locate. No report of any injuries; the initial report of this mentioned that the residents were evacuating.
2:21 AM: Added a photo just sent by our crew. SFD is canceling most of the second-alarm units.
2:29 AM: SFD is reporting that the last spots of fire were in the attic – our crew confirms that firefighters are aiming water that way right now – and the fire’s just been declared “tapped.”
2:53 AM: We’ve talked to the SFD public-information officer on scene. (video added)
Both people who were home got out OK; no injuries to anyone. They got their two cats out OK too.
3:26 AM: They’re continuing to dismiss crews from the scene, but at least one will remain, on “fire watch” as is usually the case at sizable fire scenes, for some hours to come.
12:10 PM: SFD has announced that its investigator determined the fire to be accidental, “caused by spontaneous combustion of oil staining rags. Fire started on the deck and spread to the main living area. Total estimated loss is $500,000.”
Two reports in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight:
EARLY MORNING ALLEY ARSON: Thanks to Patrick for the photo and tip that an early-morning fire callout near California/Raymond was arson.
We confirmed that tonight with SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley, who tells WSB via an e-mail response, “Investigators confirmed two recycle bins and one garbage bin were set on fire, along with two rolls of toilet paper inside a porta potty. These all occurred in an alleyway. Total estimated loss for all bins combined is $500. Case referred to SPD for followup.” Earlier in the morning, SFD responded to a dumpster fire at Westwood Village but Tinsley says that was not believed to be related.
WINDOW WARNING: From Lindsay, reporting a burglary in the Highland Park area last night:
The burglars got in the house via a semi=open window that was accidentally left open. With the weather so hot, I thought it might be good if you could broadcast a PSA reminding folks that burglars look for open windows and doors. I would really hate for anyone else to be affected in this way.
7:50 PM: SFD sent a full response to the 4100 block of 25th SW but it’s a dryer fire and it’s out, per radio communication. We are on the way to verify.
7:58 PM: Firefighters at the scene took the smoldering dryer out of the house, they told us, adding that no one was hurt and that they are using a fan to clear smoke from the house.
The man who police say told them he started a fire in his West Seattle Junction apartment Sunday morning is now charged. One count of first-degree reckless burning was filed today against 31-year-old Andrew D. Morales, and his bail was raised to $125,000, half what prosecutors requested. In the charging document, they note, “Although the defendant has no apparent Washington criminal history, he has a notable arrest and conviction history in New Jersey, including felony convictions in 2007 for Felony Aggravated Assault on Law Enforcement and Felony Possession CDS /Analog – Schedule I, II, III.” (In NJ law, CDS = Controlled Dangerous Substance.) Otherwise, the charging document has the same narrative we reported after Morales’s bail hearing Monday, that he told firefighters and police he had set the fire because there were “snipers” in his apartment and that he believed doing so had saved others from them.
A judge has set bail at $100,000 for the 31-year-old man arrested Sunday for allegedly setting his West Seattle Junction apartment on fire. We covered the fire at the Elan 41 complex at Jefferson Square early yesterday morning; later in the day, police announced they had arrested the resident of the apartment where the fire started. According to probable-cause documents used at this afternoon’s bail hearing, the man first told firefighters that he started the fire because, the report says, “there had been snipers in his apartment and they were shooting at him; to defend himself, he grabbed a bottle of acetone, threw it at them, and lit it on fire.” He then ran out, he is reported to have explained, but came back for his dog. After police arrested him, the report says, officers asked him why he started the fire; they say, “He changed the subject and wanted to know who the person was in the back of the patrol car.” The officer wrote that he advised the suspect he couldn’t see that person; “this made him upset.” The suspect then repeated what he had told SFD, adding, according to the police report, “he had saved people because the snipers would have killed them all.” The only prior arrest we can find for him was a misdemeanor assault case a year and a half ago, dismissed because there was “no prosecuting witness.” Not much information is available about that case but we do note his address was listed as the same apartment. One person was hurt in the fire, an SFD lieutenant who suffered minor injuries.
1:22 AM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is headed to the 4700 block of 42nd SW. SFD says the initial report is “light smoke in an apartment building. More to come.
1:25 AM: The address has been updated to 4100 SW Edmunds, the Elan 41 apartments at Jefferson Square. Firefighters on scene are reporting “heavy black smoke” from one side of the building.
1:28 AM: Per scanner – we’re still on the way – flames visible from the second floor.
1:33 AM: Added photo sent by David. SFD crews report fire “knocked down.” SFD reports its first search of the “fire floor and floor above” are “all clear.”
1:36 AM: SFD now reports the fire “under control.” (added) Also from radio communication – one firefighter is reported to have minor injuries.
1:41 AM: Our crew just arrived – adding photo of one of two ladder trucks on scene. This is in the section of the apartments that’s over the east side of Jefferson Square businesses.
1:56 AM: Fire now reported “tapped.” No other injuries reported so far. Our crew says the injured firefighter is a lieutenant who’s been treated by medics and will be OK. The firefighting itself is ramping down but now crews are checking into possible water problems elsewhere in the complex.
2:10 AM: SFD tells us on scene that the residents of the apartment where the fire started were not home at the time. They’re checking adjacent apartments for extension/damage. Also, the injured lieutenant will be checked out at Harborview. A pipe break is reported to be contributing to water problems elsewhere at Jefferson Square, including the parking garage and animal hospital.
2:33 AM: They’re continuing to mop up that water. Some SFD units, meantime, have been dismissed.
3:02 AM: No word yet on the fire’s cause.
10:50 AM: Via Twitter, SFD says the fire was “intentionally set” and that police are investigating. Damage is estimated at $120,000.
1:50 PM: SPD just announced that a resident of the apartment was arrested for investigation of arson after saying he started the fire.
(Added: Video sent by Lemuel Charleston)
8:28 PM: If you’re seeing smoke and/or hearing sirens – Seattle Fire has a callout for a brush fire reported in the 59th/Spokane vicinity.
8:45 PM: Photo added (thanks @SeaSK). Two of the five units dispatched have been dismissed from the call.
8:52 PM: The remaining units have been dismissed and the call is closed.
9:36 PM: Thanks to Lemuel Charleston for sending video – added above – showing the reason for the initially sizable dispatch – the fire was perilously close to a house.
Here’s what most of the aftermath of last night’s 2-alarm fire at 3633 East Marginal Way S. (we confirmed the correct address at the scene today) consists of – burned cars.
The fire was primarily around the back side of the warehouse property; SFD describes the affected area as a “warehouse repair garage” and “wrecking yard.” The cars – and what’s still in them – are the main reason it sent so much thick, dark smoke into the sky. No injuries reported.
7:15 PM: The fire generating that smoke is a building in the 3600 block of E Marginal Way, not in WS. [map] Seattle Fire is going defensive on it – too dangerous to do otherwise. Per scanner, it includes ‘two metal structures, fully involved’ with propane tanks nearby.
7:27 PM: SFD has called a 2nd alarm. We just crossed the bridge and got this view:
Avoid the bridge if you can- very smoky. The fire is still spreading per scanner and you’ll want to stay far from E. Marginal too.
7:38 PM: No injuries reported, SFD says. They describe it as a “warehouse fire”; the address checks to a “private event space.”
7:43 PM: SFD is calling a third alarm. We are going back over the bridge.
7:46 PM: Third alarm canceled. Some vehicles reported to be on fire.
From the viaduct pic.twitter.com/YvTqYel7Z9
— sareana ✨ (@Sareanaaxo) July 5, 2018
(Tweeted by Sareana)
8:06 PM: SFD is reporting progress knocking down the fire but also still calling for more reinforcements. Meantime, thanks for all the photos – we’ve just returned to HQ (we were out in the Alki area checking on the holiday scene when this broke out) and are catching up while monitoring this via scanner. Also, as we noted in a comment, we apologize that our image-upload-in-comment feature is not fixed yet, so even if it looks to you like it’s uploaded, it’s not showing – photos are always welcome at email@example.com.
8:41 PM: Still fighting the fire, and reporting progress – “well under control” is how it’s been described over SFD radio.
9:02 PM: Checked the traffic cams. Smoke over the West Seattle Bridge appears to have dissipated. On the surface, E. Marginal is still blocked at Spokane:
That’s a “live” SDOT cam view.
9:18 PM: Some units are being dismissed. SFD has tweeted photos including this one:
The tweet says the fire “has been contained to one building. Firefighters will remain on scene through the night working on spot fires.”
That’s a state Ecology Department photo, taken today, of the barge that burned on the east side of the Duwamish River last night (WSB coverage here). Ecology says the barge was boomed as a precaution but no oil sheen was detected, no “distressed wildlife,” just a “small amount of firefighting foam at tideline.” The U.S. Coast Guard lifted its half-mile “safety zone” early this morning. As for the fire, seen far and wide, we asked Seattle Fire for an update this afternoon:
SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley replied that the fire was ruled “accidental” and damage is estimated at $1 million, adding: “Firefighters remained on scene until noon today to ensure the fire was extinguished.”
11:46 AM: Thanks for the tips. Iniially sizable Seattle Fire callout to the 3500 block of Beach Drive SW for a possible house fire has been downsized to two units already, but we are en route to see what we can find out.
11:55 AM: “Small kitchen fire” is how SFD describes what happened.
7:12 PM: Two Seattle Fire calls in south West Seattle right now – a brush fire has been working in the 10200 block of Marine View Drive for more than an hour and a half, and a car fire with “exposure” to a nearby building is working in the 9200 block of 24th SW. We’re out checking on both.
7:27 PM: Here’s the car-fire scene:
Minor damage to the garage. No injuries reported.
7:40 PM: The brush-fire call closed before we were able to get to the area to check it out.
8:51 PM: A Seattle Fire “full response” is headed to the 2200 block of Sunset Avenue SW [map] in North Admiral for a possible house fire. More to come.
8:55 PM: SFD says it’s a dryer fire and is canceling most of the responding units.
9:10 PM: WSB’s Christopher Boffoli has confirmed that at the scene and says the remaining SFD crews are just helping clear out smoke.
5:23 PM: Firefighters have made quick work of what’s described as a “car fire near a structure under construction” in the 4500 block of 23rd SW [map of vicinity]. We’re on our way to check it out.
5:37 PM: At the scene. Added photo of the vehicle that caught fire.
5:40 PM: Our crew is told the vehicle caught fire after crashing into the under-construction building, which is just south of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. The driver took off and is not yet in custody.
7:25 PM: The vehicle’s been towed and police have left the scene. We checked the area just as they were departing – and shortly thereafter found ourselves behind the tow truck taking the vehicle away:
The tow driver had paused (for reasons unknown). And a P.S. – as mentioned in comments, “Avalon Tom” caught some video that shows the thick dark smoke that briefly called this fire to many people’s attention:
We’ll be following up on this post-holiday.
9:54 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a full response to a reported fire “in a house being remodeled” at 39th/Bradford, near the Charlestown water tower. More to come.
9:57 PM: The response is being scaled down – it’s described via scanner as a “small fire … in mechanical equipment” on the second floor.
10:01 PM: SFD has corrected the address – it’s in the 3800 block of 40th SW.
10:04 PM: The fire is reported to be out and firefighters have confirmed the home is “unoccupied.”
10:28 PM: SFD has closed out the call, less than 40 minutes after dispatch.
We’ve been checking daily to see if the Medical Examiner had officially identified the man found dead in a house at 42nd/Findlay last Friday after it erupted in flames while King County Sheriff’s Office SWAT officers were trying to serve an eviction notice (WSB coverage here). This afternoon, an update from KCSO answers multiple questions in the case:
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the deceased as David M. Severtson, 51 and determined his death to be suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Members of Tac-30, a Hostage Negotiator, and a Mental Health Professional spent considerable time attempting to establish contact with Severtson while outside the home on the morning of May 11, 2018.
When Severtson did not respond to multiple requests to exit voluntarily, a Tac-30 team approached the front door and noted that flames were spreading rapidly inside the home. No shots were fired by KCSO personnel.
A Seattle Fire Department investigator concluded Severtson started the fire, using gasoline, near the front door.
After the fire was out, and when it was safe for Tac-30 and KCSO Major Crimes detectives to enter the house, they discovered loaded rifles propped near several windows of the home. There were also numerous rounds of ammunition of various calibers. In all, nearly 20 rifles, ranging in caliber from .22 to .308, were recovered.
KCSO was aware of the possibility that a number of guns were inside the home, which factored in to the decision that Tac-30 (SWAT) would assist the KCSO Civil Detectives with the eviction. The operation followed repeated attempts, since January 2018, to reach Severtson about the court’s eviction order. Letters were sent to the home, notices were posted at the home, and Detectives made several personal visits. Severtson failed to respond to any of the attempts to reach him.
Severtson’s mother had owned the house until her death three years ago. Her estate originally filed the eviction action more than a year before the officers showed up Friday to serve it.