Eastside News

Large fire burns businesses at Kirkland strip mall

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Firefighters worked to put out a large fire at a Kirkland strip mall.

The fire in the Rose Hill area on Northeast 85th Street near 128th Avenue Northeast was called out just after 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters say the fire may have started inside Rose Hill Cleaners, where the heaviest flames were seen. Crescent Lighting Supply was also burned in the fire.

All of the 10 businesses in the strip mall were affected to some extent by smoke, fire or water, according to Kirkland fire spokesman Tim Day.  All the businesses share the same attic space and the fire spread to the roof, part of which collapsed.

Forty firefighters and multiple ladder trucks responded and crews cut holes in the roof to fight the flames.

The fire had to be fought defensively from the outside because the building was too dangerous to enter.

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No injuries were reported.

The strip mall dates to the 1960's and was not required to have an automatic sprinkler system.

"We'd probably be talking about one affected business instead of ten affected businesses, if this building had had a sprinkler system," said Kirkland Deputy Fire Chief Dave Van Valkenburg, who said the city started requiring sprinklers in new buildings in the early 1990's.

"Not required by code then, it is required by code now," Van Valkenburg said.

He said if the use changes for a commercial building to become a gathering space like a restaurant, sprinkler retrofits are required.

Although there were no sprinklers, the building did have fire alarms.

An international fire code governs those alarms, but the state fire marshal's office says sprinkler requirements are set at the local level.