Ballard brewery damaged by fire started by homeless person seeking warmth

SEATTLE — Cold winter nights in Western Washington have some people doing whatever they can to stay warm.

But one of the owners of Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. in Ballard said what appeared to be a warming fire almost cost him his business.

Jason Shrum, one of the brewery’s co-owners, said the fire was caught on surveillance and could have been much worse.

“A person had entered from over in that direction, had walked into here, set up shop in our beer garden and lit it on fire,” Shrum said. “It looked like they piled it up on the table and then lit it ablaze, whether it was a lighter or whatever to use, but it started a big fire.”

He’s still shocked that his business is standing because he estimated the flames were about four feet high.

“Had it gotten any higher and actually lit one of these tents on fire, not only our place but the neighboring places could have been damaged as well,” he said.

The fire started at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Hours later, CJ Daugherty, the taproom manager, walked in to find a mess.

“So I come around the corner, and it’s a big mountain of ash underneath the table that’s completely scorched and then debris kind of along the back wall there some torn up mesh where the embers went up,” Daugherty said.

Luckily the damage was minimal.

“This has been what’s kept us alive, and knowing that it was just a few embers away from being completely gone was a bit upsetting,” she said.

Shrum said he believed the person was trying to keep warm but said what happened was not okay.

“I try to be on the side of compassion, but you know, sometimes it’s difficult when especially you come in, and your place has been lit on fire,” Shrum said.

He said he hopes people will utilize the warming shelters provided by King County.

“I don’t know what the answer is, I just make beer, but yeah, you get really conflicted between wanting to help and wanting to protect everything that you’ve worked for as well,” Shrum said.