Fire Destroys Four Wash. Businesses


Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a massive three-alarm fire Friday that destroyed four businesses.

More than 12 hours after the fire, firefighters were still putting water on the charred remains on Northwest 85th Street and Palatine Avenue North in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.

A total of four businesses -- Pho Tic Tac, a Vietnamese restaurant, the Green Bean Coffeehouse, the Szechuan Bistro and C.C. Teriyaki -- were destroyed in the fire that began shortly before 4 a.m.

Seattle fire spokesman Dana Vander Houwen said when fire crews arrived, the building containing the businesses was enveloped in flames.

More than 100 firefighters using three ladder trucks fought the blaze, which quickly escalated to three alarms and caused the roof of the building to collapse.

Phung Hwang owned the Szechuan Bistro restaurant and said her family emigrated here from Vietnam and for eight years devoted themselves to a successful business.

"Just rushed here and the restaurants already completely gone. I'm really sad, she said.

Hwang said she doesnt have insurance.

Standing here, looking at the restaurant, I have nothing in mind. What am I going to do next? she said.

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean said initially firefighters were inside the building when the fire was above crews, but a decision was made to pull the firefighters out based on how the fire was moving.

At that point, firefighters took a defensive stance to keep the blaze from spreading to adjacent businesses including the Taproot Theatre and a PAWS animal rescue facility.

KIRO 7 News reporter Chris Francis interviewed an employee of the Taproot Theatre who witnessed the fire.

"There were flames. As I came around the front, the windows in one of the restaurants closest to the theater exploded -- there was glass, but I got here right before (firefighters would have) broke our doors down with axes, so I saved our doors," said Mark Lund.

Early in the day, the theatres CEO hoped there was minimal damage, but soon discovered it suffered water and smoke damage. Lund said he is hopeful repairs can be made.

The theatre was hosting a show, but in a news release issued it said the Saturday performances of Enchanted April on will be held at the Seattle Children's Theatre; the Friday night show was canceled. Ticketholders are asked to not to call but instead visit the theater's Web site,

for the most current information.

Eleven cats were evacuated from the PAWS facility and taken to Lynnwood. None of the animals were injured.

An apartment above the PAWS facility was evacuated. No residents were hurt.

The fire was mostly out by 6:30 a.m., but remaining hot spots prevented investigators from entering the building hours later.

One firefighter suffered a sprained ankle. No other injuries were reported.

There is no word on what caused the fire, but police scene tape surrounded the structure by Friday afternoon. There was a series of unsolved arsons in the area during the summer, but investigators have not made any connections.

Donations are being accepted at any Chase bank for the Greenwood Fire Relief Fund.

Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.