Arson causes $250,000 in damage to Washington's first Elks Lodge

Fire investigators have ruled a fire at the Elks Lodge just south of the Fremont Bridge as arson.

The damage is so severe that Elks Lodge #92 will have to close for the rest of the year, at least.

The Seattle Fire Department said the fire started on the exterior of this building and that someone intentionally set this fire.

“It smoldered and it smoldered for three to four hours,” said Corbett Cummins, Elks Lodge 92’s “exalted ruler” – the equivalent of an executive director.

“Our office is totally annihilated and  there’s a lot of damage in the kitchen,” he said, naming just some of the damage.

He said it’s not clear yet when Lodge 92 will reopen, but it needs extensive repairs.

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The fire and closure caught an Elks member from out of town visiting Seattle off guard when he tried to stop  by.

“I’m kind of shocked, it’s sad and I can’t believe someone would actually burn down an Elks Lodge, or attempt to, because we do so many good things in the community,” said Vernard Atkins, who was visiting from San Francisco.

The organization is a fraternal group that has a strong focus on charity – working with veterans, kids, and people in need. 
Lodge 92 said the fire started in one of the doorways in the ally.

“It does look like the fire was set with the intention to do some damage, which is saddening to us as Elks,” Cummins said. He said it appeared that someone broke up a wooden pallet, put lighter fluid on it, then set it on fire at one of their doorways that faces an ally.

Cummins said though the damage is extensive, the lodge will be OK.

And in fact, he is wishing well to the person who started the fire.

“The person who is really hurting right now is the person who set that fire. I hope they’re ok and I hope they get out of the position they’re in, where they thought that’s what they needed to do,” Cummins said.

He said, luckily, the lodge’s prized artifacts were spared – including their 130-year-old charter and a century-old pool table.

The Elks Lodge 92 was established in 1888, one year before Washington was founded as a state in 1889.

Seattle police have taken over the investigation and are working to figure out who started the fire.