Arsonist tries to torch packed Seattle nightclub

by: Chris Legeros Updated:


SEATTLE, Wash. - Just after midnight, flames erupted on a stairwell in Neighbours Nightclub, the oldest gay nightclub on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

There were 750 customers packed inside.  Shaun Knittel was one of them.

He said it appears someone poured gasoline on the carpet and ignited it.  A gas can was found inside the club.  Fortunately, two customers were able to quickly put the flames out, and an automatic sprinkler system made sure the job was finished.

Most of the customers didn't even realize what was going on at first.

Christopher D'Agostino was dancing.  When he came off the dance floor, he says he smelled something "real pungent, like kerosene."

D'Agostino said, "A couple of minutes later, they're pulling me out. It's like, there's a fire, we gotta get out of here."

Customers said the evacuation was orderly.  No one stampeded for the exits.

Ashley Washow said, "It wasn't like everyone saw the huge flames and was going all at once. People kind of like saw and started trickling out, so it wasn't like everyone was storming out."

Everyone got out of the building safely.  No one was hurt.

What's hard for many to comprehend is why someone would put so many people in danger.

William Washow said, "Luckily the security here did a great job.  It could have been a lot worse."