Fire rages Saturday morning at the Aberdeen Armory

A fire raged Saturday morning at the Aberdeen Armory, destroying a historic landmark.

The nearly century-old armory building housed the Aberdeen Museum of History – filled with priceless artifacts – and it’s considered a total loss.

The community says what was inside is irreplaceable.

“Just smoke and fire and flames shooting,” described Holly Roland, who lives nearby in Aberdeen.

The heat shattered windows and sent a thick black column of smoke shooting up in the air.

“The thermal column was going up to the clouds,” said Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard.

Friends of KIRO 7 shared video showing flames and thick smoke above the armory.

The fire started around 9:30 Saturday morning.

“Oh my gosh this morning was the worst, watching it. Just feeling helpless watching my education and every else’s hard work just burn. And there was nothing I could do, nothing,” Roland said.

It was home to the senior center, more than a dozen nonprofits - many that helped families in need – and the Aberdeen Museum of History.

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Flames were already erupting when firefighters got there. Chief Hubbard said crews pushed their way in.

“The wind pulling in behind them feeding the fire,” Hubbard said.

He says thermal cameras showed the ceiling topped 2,000 degrees, then debris started falling.

“We made a valiant effort to go offensive and then we just had to pull back,” he said.

Hubbard said every nearby agency helped fight this, with six other agencies coming in to help. At one point, 77 firefighters were on scene. It took hours to knock down the flames.

More than 100 years of Aberdeen history – from maritime to lumber, family heirlooms, how this town started – all gone.

“The museum was just priceless. The curators did just such a nice job with it and it is just devastating. The heartbreak,” Hubbard said.

But Aberdeen says its community is strong.

“We can pick up some of the pieces,” Hubbard said. “I think this is when you’ll see Aberdeen truly shine and hear people say, let’s rebuild it.”

“From these ashes we will rise and be bigger and better than before,” Roland said.

Flare-ups continued into the night on Saturday. Hubbard said crews will keep monitoring the building overnight and into Sunday.

The fire department said investigators will start looking into what caused the fire on Monday.