Investigators Try To Solve Tavern Fire in Washington

May 17, 2008
Federal investigators are trying to solve the mystery behind that devastating fire in Fife.

FIFE, Wash. --

A famous South Sound landmark went up in flames, now federal investigators are trying to solve the mystery behind that devastating fire.

The "Fabulous Firwood" tavern in Fife was leveled early Friday morning after a fire left nothing behind but charred wreckage. The fire raged out of control and was smoldering hours after crews arrived.

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The fire was reported just before 5 a.m. after a Fife police officer said he was driving by and saw smoke coming from the building's back patio. Firefighters were called, but by the time they arrived, the Firwood tavern was enveloped in flames, KIRO 7 reported.

Tacoma fire officials said that they had 11 units fighting the fire and called for mutual aid from two other fire districts because of the lack of hydrants in the area.

The fire collapsed the taverns roof and walls, and leaving twisted metal and burning embers Friday morning. Federal agents pick through the wreckage looking for the cause of a fire that destroyed the 84-year-old building.

We're looking into various different areas, and hopefully we will be able to find a cause for the fire, said Clarence Lawrence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Hyon Kil, the tavern's general manager, said his family bought the tavern a few years ago and recently renovated it.

"We just got it back open. I put my heart and soul in it," said Kil.

Carla Sawyer and her husband Clark once owned the Firwood.

"It's just overwhelming. It's a sad, sad, sad, sad thing to see it gone," said Sawyer.

Through the years the Firwood changed hands and changed businesses many times.

Initially a gas station, then during prohibition, there might have been some extracurricular activities, and then it just developed into a tavern over the years and they just kept adding on and adding on and adding on, said Sawyer

No one was injured during the fire.

ATF agents said they will be back Monday morning to continue the investigation. They said at this point they have no way to determine if this fire was deliberately set or an accident.

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