Crews battle another fire at old Seattle Times building

SEATTLE - Police and firefighters responded to a blaze in the old Seattle Times building Friday morning, adding yet another troublesome incident to the growing list of headaches at the abandoned building in recent months.

The fire was confined to a 15-by-8-foot area on the second floor of the building, but it spewed heavy volumes of smoke through the building.

Officials say it appears the fire started in some debris in a hallway-type area, but the exact cause is under investigation.

Firefighters responded to the building at 1120 John St. at about 3:55 a.m. after a passerby smelled smoke and called 911.

Crews arrived quickly, made their way up to the second floor and put the fire out.

There were some reports that some squatters were seen inside the building before the fire started. Firefighters say they did hear some voices when they made their way inside, but it's unclear how many people may have been in the building when the fire broke out.

A KOMO News photographer spotted 2 people coming out of the building after firefighters had left the scene.

"This is a potentially dangerous situation for firefighters, when you think about it. The size of the building. You know that there are transients that have occupied that building in the past," said Lt. Sue Stangl, Seattle Fire Department.

"There's potential for holes in the floor. There are contents and debris scattered all over the place. And so if this fire would get a really good foothold, it would be dangerous for us to try to get inside, make sure people are out," she added.

The abandoned building has been a big frustration over the past several months. Squatters have made their way inside on several occasions, and there was another fire there about a month ago.

In previous police raids, the building was found to be full of trash. Hypodermic needles were scattered all over.

The building is now owned by Omni, a Canadian developer that intends to replace it with 2,000 condos, according to Department of Planning and Development permits.

The developer has boarded up the building, but transients have been able to come and go at will.

Police and firefighters are going through the entire building Friday morning to make sure everyone is out before it is boarded up once again.
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