Seattle firefighters battle massive Lake City building fire for hours

SEATTLE — A fire at a vacant building in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood closed both directions of Lake City Way and sent smoke billowing into the air for hours.

Lisa James says she walked out to move her car and noticed the massive fire.

“I looked over and I did see the flames shooting from the top of the building. They were pretty intense,” said James.

The Seattle Fire Department reported the fire on Lake City Way at Northeast 140th Street just after 6 a.m. Friday.

“Fire was coming through the roof and through both floors. We immediately determined that this fire was not safe for us to enter into the building so we made this a defensive fire where our firefighters are pouring water onto the building from a safe distance,” said David Cuerpo, spokesperson for the Seattle Fire Department.

During the height of the fire, when thick black smoke billowed into the air, Seattle Fire said those who work or live nearby should close windows and doors to prevent smoke inhalation.

“It’s kind of a shock, I just woke up and they are using the fire hydrant across the street,” said Midori Namiki, who lives nearby.

Video from Seattle Department of Transportation cameras showed the smoke dissipating for a time and then flames and thick smoke reappearing as the firefight continued.

At around 11 a.m., though smoke continued to rise from the burned-out building and two ladder trucks continued to put water on the fire, the flames coming from the building were much smaller, video from Chopper 7 showed.

Drivers were asked to avoid the area.

Meanwhile, the flames caused the building’s roof and east wall to collapse.

The cause is still under investigation, but neighbors said they’ve seen people going in and out of the building for weeks.

“I’ve seen some homeless activity there for quite some time. We’ve only been living in the area for about a year but it’s always been vacant,” said Namiki.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. People who live nearby say the smoke made its way into their homes.

“It’s kind of sad. You know, you want it to be a nice and safe area, but you see this happening early in the morning,” said Namiki.

Seattle Public Utility crews were on scene helping divert water runoff away from nearby homes and businesses.