Fire that wiped out Laurelhurst homes causes $7 million in damage

SEATTLE -- Fire investigators say Monday's 3-alarm fire that destroyed a multi-million dollar Laurelhurst home and damaged a handful of others was accidentally set.

Investigators were on scene much of Tuesday confirming what was suspected late Monday: That a painter accidentally allowed lacquer fumes to permeate the house. When a furnace kicked on, it ignited the whole house and much more.

"(I was) 50 yards away and you felt you were standing in a bonfire," said witness Todd Hammer.

Several other houses nearby were ignited near the 5100 block of Laurelcrest Lane, panicking other homeowners. One painter was burned in the explosion and is being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A firefighter also suffered from heat exhaustion.

But once flames were out, investigators pored over the charred remains and estimated the fire caused $7 million in damage to the original home and its neighbors.

The home is owned by Adam Selipsky, a vice president at The family was not living there at the time because of the renovations.

Tuesday, neighbors up the hill cleaned up the charred embers that floated quite a distance on the intense heat.

Jo Moniz says it was unsettling to see the burning embers by her home. "Especially since I didn't know it was going on at the time."

The embers had actually ignited small fires elsewhere and made it even harder for firefighters.

"They started several spot fires on the hillside, plus they landed on three roofs on Latimer Lane," said Kyle Moore with Seattle Fire. "And so we had essentially three roof fires plus three spot fires on the hillside. And that's when our incident commander called for a third alarm, which brought in even more hoses, more ladders."

Nearly 100 firefighters ended up fighting the blaze.