December 31—Seattle Firefighters determined a two-alarm fire at a SODO recycling plant was an accidental fire. The cause was most likely the ignition of smoldering materials or spontaneous combustion of recycling materials.
At 10:44 p.m. on December 30, a 911 call came into the Fire Alarm Center reporting a small fire in pile of paper at the recycling center located in the 2700 block of 3rd Avenue South. The first arriving engine company found flames shooting from the roof of the metal building and a rubbish fire extending into the structure. The crew called for a full-response bringing in approximately 40 firefighters to battle the flames.
The fire extended into more than 1500 cubic yards of recycled paper and plastics. Due to the large size of the building and the large volume of fire, a second alarm was called to bring in additional resources to help control the flames. At the height of the fire, approximately 90 firefighters were on-scene battling the fire.
Firefighters used several hose lines, Engine Company deck guns and the building’s sprinkler system to control the flames. Recycle plant personnel used front loader tractors to haul 3-yard bucket loads of smoldering debris out of the piles so firefighters could wet down the embers. It took nearly 8 hours to completely extinguish the fire.
Some of the challenges the firefighters faced were several-story high smoldering recycling piles that were unstable and at a risk of collapse. Also, sub-freezing temperatures caused discharged water to freeze forming black ice around the fire scene. The ice was a fall hazard to fire crews and also made it more challenging to reposition fire apparatus around the fire scene. SDOT sent a sand truck to help alleviate the black ice hazard.
Also, King County Metro sent a Metro Bus to act as a warming station for the firefighters to rehabilitate between battling the fire on the front lines.
The damage estimate is $10,000 including damage to the fiberglass siding of the business and damage to the electrical systems. We do not have an estimate for the damage to the recycling materials.