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International District Fire

A large building caught fire in the International District on Dec. 24.

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SEATTLE — For the first time since the devastating Christmas Eve fire in the International District, business owners were allowed to go inside their shops to gather whatever they could.

mayorelectMayor-elect Ed Murray also showed up promising to help anyway he can. Murray doesn’t start his job as Seattle’s mayor until the New Year.

Chinatown business owners scrambled to salvage what they could only those with a firefighter escort were allowed to go inside the unstable structure.

“In a few days I will be mayor and the results of this fire is something I’ll have to deal with,” said Murray. “There are issues with the structural integrity of the building. What we do with the businesses to be sure that they survive and the rest of the neighborhood isn’t negatively impacted.”

Fire officials still worry that parts of the building could come crumbling down.

A fence is now up around the sidewalk trying to keep people from going inside the structure.

SEATTLE – For the first time since a fire devastated a Seattle land mark on Christmas eve, business owners were allowed to enter their damaged buildings and grab what ever they could.

id1Mayor-elect Ed Murray also showed up to tour see damage first hand and offer his support to business owners who have lost nearly everything.

Watch Q13 Fox News at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. for more on this story.

SEATTLE — The exact cause of the enormous Christmas Eve fire that devastated a Seattle landmark may never be found, but there is still a lot of work to be done at the International District Wah Mee building.

idfire3King Street is now finally back open to car traffic but the sidewalk next to the burned-out building is still taped off.  Officials worry portions could still collapse from the extensive fire and water damage – but the building’s owners are still holding out for a bright future.

“I’m still very hopeful we can get something going and that things can work out and make something happen,” said Timothy Woo. “For now we’re just trying to prioritize public safety.”

Seattle Police kept guard over the structure for most of Thursday evening, keeping people away from danger.

The past two days have been a whirlwind for the Woo’s, the family that owns the building.

“We’ve been pretty much overwhelmed,” said Timothy Woo.

The seven businesses in the destroyed building have all been declared too dangerous to enter. Firefighters will escort business owners inside for a few short minutes to grab what they can.

The Woo’s have hired a security guard to make sure people don’t get inside the structure. A barricade placed along the building’s sidewalk should be installed sometime tomorrow.

Local News
12/26/13

Officials: We’ll never know what caused International District fire

SEATTLE – The Seattle Fire Department says it will never know what started the fire that gutted the historic Wah Mee Building in the International District.

The damage was apparently too great and the chain of evidence was destroyed.

intfireThe Christmas Eve fire severely damaged the upper floor of the building, and most business owners on the ground floor are only allowed in for a few minutes to gather things and won’t be able to re-open unless major repairs are made.

“This is my whole life,” said Djin Kwie Liem, who has owned an aquarium in the building for nearly 40 years. Liem explained that in Chinese culture, it is considered good luck to buy a new fish for the new year, and he had just recently received an order of more than 10,000 fish. They all died in the fire.

“Just gone,” said Liem. “No food is no problem, but no air no temperature, and fish can’t survive.”

All of the businesses on the ground floor of the Wah Mee building remain closed. Several are red-tagged, which means business owners can only enter the building for ive minutes under escort from the fire department. None of the businesses will be allowed to open back up any time soon.

The building has been infamous the last 30 years since the 1983 Wah Mee Massacre, when 13 people were murdered inside a gambling club in the building. But neighbors say it has been around for more than a century and they would be sad if it had to be destroyed.

intfireSEATTLE — Firefighters remain on the scene of a building ravaged by fire on Christmas Eve in the International District.

The building, located in the 660 block of South King Street is still considered to be dangerous and could collapse. The fire broke out shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Fire crews battled heavy smoke and flames for hours.

As of Thursday morning, crews still haven’t been able to get inside of the building to try and determine a cause.

The building is 104 years old and after the fire broke out, bricks were falling off the structure prompting fire crews to evacuate 46 residents from nearby buildings. Firefighters are now monitoring the building for any possible flare ups and are awaiting engineers to arrive to determine the stability of the building.

The building does have a notorious past. It was the site of one of the worst massacres in Seattle’s history.  In 1983, 14 people were shot, 13 died.

wahmeeSEATTLE — Firefighters are still on watch 24 hours after a huge blaze engulfed a building in the International District. That fire caused so much damage that the structure, located in the 660 block of King Street, could come crumbling down.

An entire block of King Street is still closed. Officials worry the fire and all the water they dumped on it Tuesday evening has weakened the fragile infrastructure.

Benjamin Ponsones lives in the building next door. He was worried when he saw all the smoke yesterday afternoon.

“Of course, it’s close,” he said. “It’s only a few steps from our apartment, so it was really scary. And it was Christmas Eve.”

Firefighters told him he couldn’t go home, because they weren’t sure if they could stop the fire from spreading. He spent the night with his sister-in-law. But not all his neighbors had family nearby.

“Some of them, they had go to shelters,” Ponsones said. “They had small kids, there was old people.”

Wednesday afternoon, fire crews restored power and let residents back in the neighborhood. But they say they’re not ready to leave yet.

Although they believe the fire is completely out, they worry about the integrity of the building itself.

“Our concern is the overall structure of the building. We do not want to have any catastrophic collapses,” said Lt. Sue Stangl with the Seattle Fire Department.

Bricks have been falling off the building since last night and the owners of those cars haven’t been able to move them until today.

The fire forced nearly 50 people out of nearby homes last night but now that power has been restored everyone can go back to their homes.

The building was the site of Washington State’s worst mass killing. The infamous Wah Mee massacre happened back in the 1980’s. But the family who owns the property says the building is more than it’s dark past.

“It defines Chinatown,” said Timothy Woo. “The bakery, the restaurants, the bulletin board is on the wall. This is a historical building not just because of the Wah Mee club.”

Fire officials don’t yet know what caused the blaze and they can’t start their investigation until they get some structural engineers to shore up the walls.

The city hopes to get that work started on Thursday.

SEATTLE — Firefighters are still on watch 24 hours after a huge blaze in the International District. That fire caused so much damage the structure could come crumbling down.

An entire block of King Street is still closed. Officials worry the fire and all the water they dumped on it Tuesday has weakened the fragile infrastructure.

Even Christmas morning couldn’t keep the crowds away from building on the 660 block of King Street. People had to stop and see the damage for themselves.

wahmee

Around 4pm on Christmas Eve ladder trucks pumped water into the building from above.

“We had to go defensive and with that situation it took quite a while to get the fire out,” said Lt. Sue Stangl with the Seattle Fire Department. “They did a great job and the fire is out. The reason we know that is because we have thermal imaging cameras in place that’s allowing us to detect if there’s any increase in the heat.

Around a half-dozen businesses were operating on the street level, but the remaining upper floors have been condemned for years.

Years of neglect, and yesterday’s fire, are why officials are keeping the block on King Street closed.

“Our concern is the over all structure of the building. We do not want to have any catastrophic collapses,” said Stangl.

Bricks have been falling off the building since last night and the owners of those cars haven’t been able to move them until today.

The fire forced nearly 50 people out of nearby homes last night but now that power has been restored everyone can go back to their homes.

The building was the site of Washington State’s worst mass killing. The infamous Wah Mee massacre happened back in the 1980’s. But the family who owns the property says the building is more than it’s dark past.

“It defines Chinatown,” said Timothy Woo. “The bakery, the restaurants, the bulletin board is on the wall. This is a historical building not just because of the Wah Mee club.”

Fire officials don’t yet know what caused the blaze and they can’t start their investigation until they get some structural engineers to shore up the walls.

City officials hope to get that work started on Thursday.

SEATTLE — The site of Seattle’s worst mass murder has gone up in flames – and a dark piece of the city’s history could come down at any moment.

intfireFire crews are trying to keep a safe distance but they are also trying to keep any flare-ups from spreading to nearby buildings.

The Seattle Fire Department has moved their people and most of their equipment out of what they call the collapse zone.

There are a few businesses in the building’s street level but the upper floors of the building are condemned.

Those floors aren’t safe for anyone to walk on and firefighters fear the fire and water could cause this building to fall.

The fire department said the two-alarm started around 4PM in an abandoned building along the 660 block of King Street.

The fire hit the old Wah Mee building, site of the Wah Mee massacre – the worst mass murder in Seattle history. Three men – Tony Ng, Willie Mak and Benjamin Ng – went into the basement of an illegal gambling club and hogtied, robbed and killed 13 people. Tony Ng, who claims he didn’t participate in the actual shootings, was paroled in October. Benjamin Ng and Mak are serving life sentences without parole.

Firefighters swarmed the scene but the building’s deteriorating condition is making it a tough fight.

“As floors get older and they’re not stabilized that means you could fall through them,” said Chief Gregory Dane. “Same thing with the roof and everything else, we’re not putting people there just so there’s no safety and there’s no life hazard.”

Scores of onlookers watched as ladder trucks pumped a huge amount of water from the air.

“We’re concerned the longer we put water on this building that the walls may collapse out,” Dane said.

Firefighters also battled the blaze from adjacent rooftops. The building does have an internal firewall but the blaze ripped right through it.

The huge plume of smoke could be seen from most places in Seattle.

Power has been shut off to more than 500 customers as a safety precaution for firefighters.

Nearly 30 people have been evacuated from three nearby buildings and the Red Cross is working on opening an emergency shelter.

Fire officials will remain on the scene for a very long time putting out hotspots overnight.

The cause of this blaze is still a mystery. Seattle Fire Department officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.

International District fire 4SEATTLE — A fast-moving, two-alarm fire ripped through a three-story building Tuesday afternoon in the International District.

Smoke could be seen rising up from the three-story building across the city.

The fire department said the fire started around 4PM in an abandoned building along the 660 block of King Street.

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean said the building, which had spongy floors on its upper floors, was on a ‘dangerous building list.’ Crews fought the fire defensively and were working to keep flames from spreading to other buildings.

Dozens of firefighters rushed to the scene using two ladder trucks to fight the flames from above. Dean said firefighters were fighting the fire at a distance because officials are concerned the building could collapse.

Officials said there were no reports of injuries so far. Dean also said it was too early to tell how or where the fire started.

The fire hit the old Wah Mee building, site of the Wah Mee massacre – the worst mass murder in Seattle history. Three men – Tony Ng, Willie Mak and Benjamin Ng – went into the basement of an illegal gambling club and hogtied, robbed and killed 13 people. Tony Ng, who claims he didn’t participate in the actual shootings, was paroled in October. Benjamin Ng and Mak are serving life sentences without parole.

Watch Q13 FOX News tonight for more on this story.

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