Nov. 14, 2012
For Immediate Release
City of Everett Public Information Director
425-257-8687 or cell 425-418-0936
Police Department Public Information Officer
Investigators work into day 7 on Hewitt Avenue fire
City activates message line; medical examiner releases identity
EVERETT – Police and Fire Department investigators have been focusing their attention toward the southeast portion of the second floor living areas to determine what may have caused the fatal fire at a downtown building in the 1800 block of Hewitt Avenue on Thursday at about 9:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner completed the examination and confirmed the identification of the 61-year-old man, Michael D. Beard, who died in the fire. The medical examiner determined the cause of death as smoke inhalation, and the manner of death is accident.
Also on Tuesday, the City of Everett activated a telephone message line for community members with questions related to the fire. City staff will review the message line, which is 425-257-7011, several times a day and coordinate response from the appropriate city departments.
On Tuesday, the city’s building official reduced the tag on 1812 Hewitt Avenue from “dangerous structure/do not enter” to “unsafe structure/limited entry,” which allowed tenants to retrieve belongings but not occupy the building. The building official tag on 1820 Hewitt Avenue remains as “dangerous structure/do not enter.” And, the city’s code enforcement division officially declared 1820 Hewitt Avenue as “condemned,” which prohibits occupancy of the structure and starts the official process toward ordering the building to be properly restored and brought back into compliance or demolish the structure.
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 American Red Cross Snohomish County Chapter was on site to assist displaced residents of the 13 apartment units. The American Red Cross assisted 33 people with overnight stay on Nov. 8 from 1820 Hewitt Avenue and two nearby apartment buildings. Red Cross has continued to assist families impacted by the fire. For more information on the Red Cross, go to: http://www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org/
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.
Investigators have estimated the loss of the building is $1 million. Value of contents is not yet known.