On December 24, firefighters battled a fire for six hours in the Seattle International District’s Wah Mee building—the site of the Wah Mee massacre, where 13 people were shot to death and one left for dead at a gambling club in 1983.
According to the the Seattle Fire Department, firefighters evacuated the businesses on the ground floor of the three-story building yesterday afternoon. The top two stories were vacant residential units.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire investigator has not been able to estimate the structural or content loss at this time.
There are no reported injuries.
UPDATE 12/25/13: The Seattle Fire Department has set up a safety perimeter around the building to protect against a possible collapse as the building’s structural integrity due to fire and water damage is determined.
The Seattle Fire Department reported:
At 3:57 p.m. on December 24, multiple 911 calls came into Firefighter/Dispatchers at the Fire Alarm Center reporting flames coming from the roof of the building located in the 600 block of South King Street. Before arriving, responding engines reported a large column of black smoke coming from the old building.
Because the building was vacant, firefighters immediately took a defensive position and fought the fire from the exterior of the structure. A two-alarm was called to bring in additional resources to help battle the large building fire.
Firefighters battled the flames using several 1000 gallon-a-minute ladder pipes along with multiple hose lines. Due to signs the building walls potentially could collapse, South King Street was shut down between Maynard Avenue South and 7th Avenue South. Fire apparatus located near the building were relocated outside the collapse zone.
Residents living in two apartment complexes located directly across the alley and west of the fire building were evacuated. King County Metro provided a bus as a warming shelter for the 20 adults and 2 children who were initially evacuated from their homes. The American Red Cross worked with the City of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management and Seattle Parks to set up an overnight warming shelter at the International District/Chinatown Community Center located at 719 8th Avenue South.
At 10:23 p.m. the fire was declared under control. Firefighters continue to battle the fire through the night and into the morning hours.