Christmas Eve fire in Chinatown

Firefighters attack a large fire in the International District Tuesday (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

By Staff

The cause of the Christmas Eve fire in the International District has been classified as “undetermined,” according to the Seattle Fire Department. Crews responded to the fire that started in the top floor of the three-story Hudson Building on the corner of 7th Ave. S. and S. King St. at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 24.

The initial attack involved eight engines, with firefighters in “defensive” mode, said Seattle Fire Dept. Medical Services Officer Lt. Michael Barokas, because the burning building was deemed unsafe to enter. Firefighters used several 1000 gallon-a-minute ladder pipes along with multiple hose lines on the flames. The streets were flooded, and eight first-floor businesses were drenched. South King Street between Maynard Avenue South and 7th Avenue South was shut down and a large crowd of onlookers removed from the sidewalk due to signs the building walls might collapse.

Residents in two apartment complexes across Maynard Alley were evacuated, and power was cut off to several hundred Seattle City Light customers.

Owned by the Woo family, the building houses the Mon Hei Bakery, Sea Garden Seafood Restaurant, Seattle Gospel Center Bookroom, Palace Decor & Gifts, Liem’s Pet Shop, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Yuan Sheng Hang herbal shop, as well as the boarded-up Wah Mee Club, site of the 1983 massacre in which 13 people were murdered.

On Thursday and Friday, business owners, escorted by firefighters, were allowed to enter their water-damaged stores for five-minute periods to retrieve belongings.

Tim Woo, one of the building’s owners, said on Friday that the family is weighing their options on what to do next. The fire department said fencing will be installed around the structure to protect pedestrians from falling debris, and the property owners will hire a structural engineer to determine the long-term status of the structure.

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Photos on flickr