2 dead in South Seattle fire at marijuana grow house

SEATTLE — Two people were killed and a home was destroyed in a South Seattle house fire near S. Barton Street and Spear Place S on New Year’s Eve.

Investigators say the house was also the site of a marijuana grow operation.

Neighbors in the area say the flames erupted around 5:45 a.m.

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“It was just red,” said Bessie Gratton, who lives in the neighborhood.

“There was smoke coming out and you could see the big flames,” said Yoseph Teklemariam, who lives right across the street.

The fire ripped through the house and left the entire inside completely black from the main floor to the basement.

“Unfortunately there are two fatalities at this time,” said Hilton Almond, with the Seattle Fire Department.

“I saw one of them, I was standing right here when they pulled him out,” Teklemariam said.

When fighting the flames, one firefighter fell through a hole in the floor.

“On the first floor there was a 15-by-15-foot hole in the floor. We did have one firefighter, because they were unaware of it, partially fall through the hole but he was pulled out,” Almond said.

The firefighter hurt his hand but will be OK.

In the house, investigators also discovered pot plants

“This was a marijuana grow operation,” Almond said.

As cleanup crews started work to board up the house, KIRO7 saw what looked like the charred remains of those marijuana plants and grow equipment

“Very, very surprising,” said Janet Hisayasu, another neighbor.

“I didn't know there was a marijuana operation over here. It's scary,” Teklemariam said. “It does concern me a lot because this is a very peaceful neighborhood,” he said.

Neighbors said they never noticed anything unusual in the past.

“I never smelled anything,” Gratton said.

“I didn't see any people go in and out that much, so wow, that's a shock,” said Mari Yoda, another neighbor.

They say no matter what was going on at the house, they're also thinking about the loss of life.

“Very much so, with the holidays and everything,” Hisayasu said.

“It’s very, very sad,” Teklemariam said.

The property owner who stopped by the scene said he was renting to one tenant - a man. He said he’s not sure who the other victim is and investigators have not yet released that information.

They’re also still investigating what started the fire and whether it was connected to the grow operation.