A burnt forklift sits in a partially collapsed building owned by Northwest Millwork.
A burnt forklift sits in a partially collapsed building owned by Northwest Millwork.

Police are now investigating a massive fire that broke out in a North Queen Anne lumberyard on Saturday as arson.

Firefighters responded to the 3500 block of Sixth Avenue West around 8:40 p.m. on Nov. 10. 10 to tackle fires in five structures owned by Gascoigne Lumber Company and Northwest Millwork. The response grew from a one-alarm to a three-alarm fire within seven minutes, said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, and ended as a four-alarm fire, the first for the city since 2010.

Fifty-one units responded, for a total of 142 fire personnel, Scoggins said, which was two-thirds of the department. Partnering departments from Tukwila, Renton and Bellevue responded to Seattle to provide support for other emergencies that arose while the four-alarm blaze was being fought.

The fire chief said arson investigators made the determination that the fire was intentionally set after reviewing security footage, but could not confirm whether it was from cameras on site or in neighboring commercial buildings. Scoggins also could not confirm whether there was one or multiple points of origin for the fire.

“Our arson investigators have enough information to believe it’s arson,” he said.

Samples have been sent in for testing to determine if any accelerants were used in the arson.

Seattle Fire also determined that a Nov. 8 fire at the Elks Lodge No. 92, a mile from Gascoigne Lumber and near the Fremont Bridge, was caused by arson. Scoggins said it’s too early to determine if there is a possible connection.

“We don’t know that to be the case, right now,” he said.

The fire chief said a fire in the 222 Building was caused by an electrical issue, and not arson.

Seattle firefighters conducted an inspection of the Gascoigne Lumber facility earlier this year, Scoggins said, and found no code violations.

Two Gascoigne Lumber buildings collapsed in the Nov. 10 blaze, and a Northwest Millwork building is partially collapsed and unsafe for firefighters to enter. Several vehicles were also damaged.

The damage to all property and inventory is estimated at $4.3 million. Among the structures involved in the fire were two large sheds filled with lumber, providing a lot of fuel for the fire.

Accessing the site near the Ship Canal made battling the fire difficult. Firefighters were pumping out 12,000 gallons of water per minute at the height of the blaze, Scoggins said. That stressed the water system; residents on Nextdoor reported discolored water coming from their sinks.

Seattle City Light had to de-energize power due to the fire nearing and eventually destroying some overhead lines, which will need to be replaced. Power for most customers in the area was restored by the following morning.

Boats in a nearby marina were spared from the blaze.

“If the wind was blowing the other way, it would be a different story,” said Fire Lt. Jeff Lundstrom.

Firefighters will remain at the site to address residual hot spots for the time being.

Anyone with information about the lumberyard fire is asked to contact SPD’s Arson and Bomb Squad at 206-684-8980. Callers can remain anonymous.

“We like the community to help us out with these situations wherever they can,” Scoggins said.

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