Nov. 13, 2012
For Immediate Release
City of Everett Public Information Director
425-257-8687 or cell 425-418-0936
Police Department Public Information Officer
Investigation continues into cause of Hewitt Avenue fire
Streets are open, building a complete loss
EVERETT – Police and Fire Department investigators continue to look into what caused a fatal fire at a downtown apartment and business building in the 1800 block of Hewitt Avenue on Thursday at about 9:30 p.m. The estimated loss of the building is $1 million. Value of contents is not yet known.
Crews responded to the fire at 9:26 p.m. Thursday Nov. 8. The fire advanced rapidly, and fire crews who had been fighting the fire from inside the building were forced back outside. About 97 firefighters from Everett and surrounding fire agencies fought the fire throughout the night. Neighbors reported a fellow resident was unaccounted for while crews were fighting the fire. At that time, it was unclear if the person was inside the building or elsewhere.
Electrical power to the downtown area around the fire was initially turned off to prevent energized power lines from possibly falling around the fire scene. Power to the downtown area was restored Friday morning outside of the fire scene. The Red Cross of Snohomish County was on site to assist displaced residents of the 13 apartment units.
Fire crews shut down the majority of their equipment at about 3:20 a.m. and remained at the scene to monitor for any flare ups throughout the morning.
Downtown streets from Rockefeller Avenue to Broadway and from Wall Street to California were blocked off until Sunday afternoon while crews worked in the area.
On Friday morning, the city’s building official deemed two structures at 1820 and 1812 Hewitt Avenue as unsafe to enter. The city began working with the property owners to determine the next steps. The building at 1812 Hewitt Avenue, which houses professional offices, had water and smoke damage. It is also unknown if the wall that connects both buildings is stable. The 1812 Hewitt Avenue structure does not appear to be in imminent danger of collapse.
On Friday, police and fire investigators began observing the damage to the 1820 Hewitt Avenue building from a fire ladder truck bucket. During that observation, crews spotted what appeared to be a body in the wreckage.
At the same time, building officials worked with the property owner of the fire damaged building to hire a contractor to begin emergency demolition of the outer walls on the second floor to remove danger of collapse and to access the body for recovery.
On Saturday, demolition and cleanup continued. At about 2:30 p.m. crews were able to reach the body by fire ladder truck bucket. The body was recovered and turned over to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner for cause and manner of death, identification and family notification. Demolition of exterior walls continued into the evening.
On Sunday, crews completed initial demolition to the outer walls of the second floor. City of Everett streets and public works crews opened the streets to traffic by Sunday afternoon. City building officials tagged both 1820 and 1812 Hewitt Avenue as dangerous buildings and restricted unauthorized entry into either building.
Today, the city’s building official made contact with the engineer for 1812 Hewitt Avenue and plans to modify to building tag from “dangerous structure/do not enter” to “unsafe structure/limited entry,” which will allow tenants to retrieve belongings but not occupy the building. The building official tag on 1820 Hewitt Avenue remains as “dangerous structure/do not enter.”