SEATTLE – Firefighters were called to the 3000 block of 25th Ave. S. on June 14 just after 3 a.m. for a fire at a homeless encampment. When crews arrived on scene, they saw flames 50-feet high coming from an encampment structure made of pallets and tarps that was fully engulfed in flames. The fire also consumed nearby brush and trees.
Crews were able to quickly put water on the fire, and searched nearby encampments that were in close proximity to ensure no occupants suffered from smoke exposure. Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters were able to search the burned down encampment and found two adults deceased inside the pallet structure (one female, one male). The King County Medical Examiner’s Office was called to the scene later in the morning, and the fire department assisted them in their efforts to remove the deceased individuals.
Fire investigators have ruled the cause of the fire as “undetermined”, pending the results of the autopsy. The Seattle Police Department’s Arson and Bomb Squad investigators also responded to the scene, per policy for fire fatalities.
Fires that occur at encampments can spread rapidly due to the type of material involved and close proximity to brush. Additionally, fires present a significant danger to encampment occupants, as there are not standard fire safety systems in place (such as smoke alarms) to alert occupants of an active fire.