Squatters may be to blame for fire at empty warehouse

Updated:

SEATTLE, Wash. - Fire officials say squatters may be responsible for causing a huge fire at an empty warehouse in Seattle’s Rainier Valley Sunday morning.

Dozens of firefighters were called to the scene as the empty warehouse at the corner of South Grand and 22nd Avenue went up in flames.

The fire was shooting through the roof at one point and thick black columns of smoke could be seen from miles away.

“(Flames were) probably 80 to 90 feet up in the air,” said neighbor Don Middleton.

Fire officials say they initially had trouble accessing the warehouse because the building was vacant.

Investigators are looking into whether vagrants may have been inside at one point, potentially setting the fire.

Fire crews say they have been working for years to deal with squatters at the site.


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"They have been able to access it in the past and they have a lot of time to figure out the construction,” said Shata Stephanson with the Seattle Fire Department.

Fire officials say the building has been empty for about five years and with a homeless problem in the area, they have been working to either have someone to take over the structure or get the building torn down.

At one point, there were more than 70 firefighters battling the flames.

The fire did not spread to other structures.

Investigators are still working to find out how it started and how much damage the fire caused.