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3-alarm fire in First Hill neighborhood

SEATTLE – On Jan. 1 at 4:41 a.m., Seattle’s Fire Alarm Center received multiple 9-1-1 calls regarding a fire in the 800 block of Madison St. in the First Hill neighborhood. When firefighters from Stations 10 (downtown) and 25 (Capitol Hill) arrived first on scene, they saw heavy black smoke from a four-story vacant residential structure and heavy fire involvement on multiple floors.

Fire crews were familiar with the building, as a previous 3-alarm fire had occurred in June of 2022 in the same structure when it used to be occupied. After the 2022 fire, the building has been listed as vacant. Because of the amount of fire observed at today’s fire and the building being compromised and unsafe from prior fires, the incident commander called for a defensive fire attack. Fire crews immediately began connecting to hydrants to establish a water supply, and put water on the fire with ladder pipe operations and hand lines.

There were initial reports from bystanders on scene that people could still be inside the building. Several individuals were able to self evacuate from the basement and one person was observed through a window on the second floor of the structure, but fire crews were unable to to locate him. It’s possible that the individual was able to self-evacuate, however, the building is unable to be searched due to structural instability.

At 4:53 a.m. the incident was upgraded to a 2-alarm fire and shortly after at 5:18 a.m. to a 3-alarm. The fire had spread to the roof, void space and top floor of an attached apartment building next door on 9th Avenue, displacing all residents in that structure due to fire and water damage. Fire crews worked strategically to prevent further buildings in close proximity from catching fire.

Another apartment building further down the block was evacuated as a precaution, and due to heavy black smoke, those living in the top units of an adjacent 11-story apartment and business building were also advised to evacuate. Those two structures were not heavily damaged, and individuals were permitted to re-enter once the fire was put under control.

There are no confirmed injuries at this time to members of the public or firefighters. The American Red Cross was requested to assist displaced residents from the apartment building that caught fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and units will remain on scene throughout the day of Jan. 1 to continue extinguishing hot spots.

Photo credits: John Odegard.