TIGER MOUNTAIN, Wash. — Eastside Fire and Rescue firefighters were still putting out hot spots Tuesday evening after a morning fire devoured a huge commercial building in Issaquah near Tiger Mountain.
The fire gave firefighters a challenge and residents a scare when it jumped to some nearby trees.
Nothing prepared Kristi Slotemaker for this.
Slotemaker is passionate about cheese, so much so, she teaches others how to make it at her cheese making school, River Valley Cheese.
"It's gone, it's just gone," said Slotemaker.
Just a portion of her classroom remains. A warehouse, a media and music company, and an artist’s workshop all burned to the ground.
The walls collapsed — the studs aren't even standing.
"A little bit shocking that it burned to the ground," said Mike Kirkland of MK Property Services, the building's owner. "Believe it or not, in 30 years I've never had a complete burn out like this — never. So, I'm going to pick up the pieces and figure out where to go next."
There wasn't anything tenant Patrick D'Angelo could do.
"I just smelled something and 'boom' — it was like a minute or 30 seconds. It was black smoke in this whole place," said D'Angelo
The building went, and then the trees around it caught on fire. The fire was a challenge to firefighters because in the area there are no nearby fire hydrants.
"The water was a big challenge for us," said Eastside Fire and Rescue Captain Steve Johnson. "There are no hydrants in this area, so that is a risk in this area."
Eastside Fire and Rescue knew that, and ordered water tenders — big trucks filled with water — to unload on the fire.
"The trees were heavily involved as well, but luckily it's been really wet, so we didn't have the risk of a wildland fire or inner urban fire," said Johnson.
"I stood 50 feet back and just watched it burn, because, like, what else do you do? You make sure everyone was out of there," said D'Angelo who runs a music studio and media production business out of the now charred space.
D'Angelo said he called 911 and together with the other tenants made sure everyone was out safely.
As a precaution, a nearby preschool's 50 kids were evacuated to a nearby fire station. Captain Johnson said they were all reunited quickly with their parents.
When the smoke settled Slotemaker was reunited with a special keepsake — a firefighter hand delivered to her an enormous old book with pages that had gilt edges.
"Oh, oh my gosh, thank you so much. This is a dictionary that my great-grandfather was given. He came to this country, he didn't know any English, this was his dictionary," she hugged it tight and just bowed her head in thankfulness. "I'm just so grateful."
Captain Johnson said two firefighters were hurt. They both have minor back injuries and will be released from the hospital Tuesday night.
Crews will secure the scene overnight and watch for hot spots.