Bothell community begins recovery after massive fire downtown

Bothell businesses that survived Friday's massive fire and now welcoming back customers, July 23, 2016. (KOMO Photo)

BOTHELL, Wash. - Members of the Bothell community surveyed the damage and started to cleanup on Saturday after a massive fire destroyed 15 businesses in city's historic downtown area.

Work crews began moving debris and securing structures so teams from Bothell Fire, Bothell Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could prepare their investigation into how it all stared.

Many business owners are still trying to cope with the loss. "I haven't really had time to sit down and grapple with the situation," said Kozy Corner ower, Sandra Adkins.

"I was like, 'what do you mean Main Street is on fire," said Adkins. "To just watch it go up in smoke, just like that and there's really nothing you can do."

The early Friday morning blaze gutted one building after another, sending huge flames billowing into the sky that could be seen for miles. The fire incinerated a retail area that was in the midst of a revitalization effort. The old Mercantile Building, which was being converted into a five-story retail-apartment complex with a historic facade, was also completely destroyed.

"It’s just like kinda having the middle burn out of the city and it’s upsetting," said Bothell Mayor Andy Rheaume. "This is a sad day for Bothell."

The fire was contained by mid-day on Friday, but firefighters worked through the night to monitor hot spots and watch for flareups.

By Saturday morning, the charred frames of more than a dozen businesses were all that was left along part of the city's Main Street. The road remains closed between 101st Avenue Northeast and 103rd Avenue Northweast. 102nd Avenue Northeast is also closed from the Park and Ride to Northeast 183rd Street.

Some businesses west of that area displayed signs in their windows to let customers know they were still open.

"I just can't believe that our business was spared, especially how close the fire was," said Danica Cardin, the manger at Alexa's cafe. Her business reopened today and was spared from the flames. "We just need to come together and help the businesses that were lost to rebuild."

Damage from the fire is estimated at $15 million. The one positive outcome - no one was injured or killed in the fire.

Some neighbors are now raising money through a GoFundMe page to help other business owners who lost everything.

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