Massive fire destroys building, businesses at Federal Way strip mall
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- A two-alarm fire early Sunday gutted a building at a strip mall in Federal Way, destroying at least 9 businesses, fire authorities say.
The building is across the street from The Commons at Federal Way, just off South 320th Street in the 31900 block of 21st Avenue South. The mall includes three separate buildings. A business in a second building had some minor damage. The third building was not damaged.
The first building was home to a Subway sandwich shop, a Hispanic grocery store, an Asian restaurant, a Vape shop and several other businesses.
Fire crews were on scene throughout the day to keep an eye on hot spots and extinguish any flare-ups.
Firefighters responded Sunday around 4:30 a.m. after employees at a coffee shop nearby saw smoke as they came into work.
Witnesses report seeing flames and thick smoke pour from the building.
"We pull up ‘cause we didn’t know what it was, and then we started seeing black smoke," said witness Eric Renteria. "And then huge pops and everything. So, that’s when we called the fire department. Soon everything was just engulfed in flames."
The fire had spread significantly by the time fire crews arrived on scene. Authorities say it could take some time to determine how the fire started.
"It was my baby," said Alex Geesman, who's family owns one of the businesses that was damaged. Al's Music & Games, the collectibles store her father named after her, sold rare CDs, DVDs, and video games.
"People will come to our store and it’s like a museum," Geesman said. "It’s just really sad. And it’s my family’s business, so like… it doesn’t get more close to home than right here."
"I just came for support for my parents," said Kenny Kim, whose family owns 2NE Pho. "My mom’s baby. I mean… she cherished this place like it was her own. Forever."
One firefighter suffered a very minor injury while fighting the flames. No one else was hurt. Several agencies responded.
There's no word yet on the cause of the fire.