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Large First Hill encampment fire brings explosions and column of flames near Harborview Medical Center — UPDATE

A column of fire and smoke rose from First Hill as explosions echoed through the neighborhood in a massive encampment fire in the greenspace below Harborview Medical Center and I-5 early Friday.

Seattle Fire sent multiple units to the “significant encampment fire” on the west side of Harborview reported just before 5:30 AM near 7th and James.

Multiple explosions were reported as firefighters assessed how best to approach the greenbelt area amid the burning trees and camp areas above the freeway. The fire was reported under control after about 15 minutes.

SFD said the fire spread to several trees, tarps and tents, but did not extend into Harborview Medical Center.

We’ve asked Seattle Fire for information on any injuries and will update when we learn more.

UPDATE: SFD says one person was injured in the fire but could not be located by firefighters. They had walked to Harborview for treatment, SFD says.

 

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23 Comments
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Reality
Reality
10 months ago

There goes more urban tree canopy thanks to our houseless neighbors experiencing substance use disorder. I am sure they were born and raised in Seattle. This centering our city around the needs of addicts really seems to be working. We just need to bring them more “harm reduction” foil and needles and everything will be ok! Just because they almost burned down a hospital while cooking meth doesn’t mean there should be a stigma! lol

Seattle needs a course correction away from magical thinking, performative progressivism, and toxic compassion to pragmatic leadership. This could be such an amazing city if we stopped doubling down on the same failed policies that have fueled the encampments, drug crisis and destruction of public spaces. Vote for change. Vote for Bobby Goodwin, the only District 3 candidate that is against decriminalization of meth and fentanyl. Vote for the pragmatic candidates over the leftist ideologues that are enabling addicts to death and sinking Seattle in the process.

Boo
Boo
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

Thanks Reality, for your dose of the same. Hoping to get some pragmatism back on the city council this election.

ohreally
ohreally
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

Decriminalization can only work if coupled with forced rehab and/or psych services, as they do in some European countries to great effect.

Reality
Reality
10 months ago
Reply to  ohreally

I remember reading that the guy that started the decriminalization program in Portugal was horrified when he visited Insight in Vancouver. He said that this is NOT the Portuguese model. They would never allow the open air drug markets and lawlessness in Portugal or Switzerland. The harm reduction model as applied in liberal American and Canadian cities is its own animal and it is a dytopian disaster.

Tom
Tom
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

Yes, let’s send the homeless back to rural Republican towns.

Glenn
Glenn
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Or perhaps to Portugal?

d4l3d
d4l3d
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

Are you including all the children and elderly? Quite a glut of unsupported contrary-to-facts myth. You likely don’t know any unhoused and can’t afford to lest it influence your lazy animosity.
Since you have unique exclusive info about this incident before anyone else appears to and you’re so civic minded, you should contact the authorities before they waste time investigating. It’s the law.

Reality
Reality
10 months ago
Reply to  d4l3d

I am not because I am referring to individuals that live in encampments in Seattle’s public spaces. A very large percentage of this population is addicted to drugs, and that is why they are homeless. This group does not generally include children or the elderly unless they have severe substance use disorder. I am aware that the definition of homelessness is broader than rough sleepers and includes children that are sleeping on a couch at grandma’s house and elderly that live in RVs in the Walmart parking lot. You are perpetuating a myth that the elderly and children are living in tents in the forest by Harborview and on Broadway. That is just not true. They are there because of addiction not high rents. If we can’t acknowledge reality, we will never solve this crisis.

Kathleen
Kathleen
10 months ago
Reply to  d4l3d

Appreciate your strong defense of people who are truly needy. Hope Simon LaGree(d) and his co-horts get their just desserts. Just because you were a lucky little zygote in a warm sea shouldn’t make you snobbish and judgemental. Addiction is a disease some of the self righteous won’t believe it. Lord enlighten these heathen pls.

Matt
Matt
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

Our housed neighbors have done far more damage to Seattle’s tree canopy than the unhoused, many of whom have been displaced by the rapid growth that has wiped out entire neighborhoods of trees. Give me a break 🙄

Name here
Name here
10 months ago

Seattle, we have a problem. How many homeless encampment fires have there been in Seattle so far this year? What percent of total fires occur in homeless encampments or are caused by vagrants?

Jake Netherton
Jake Netherton
10 months ago
Reply to  Name here

There have been waaaay more fires in homes occupied by renters or owners, than fires in homeless encampments. The fire that burned Seattle to the ground in 1889 was started by a legitimate businessman. Not a homeless person.

Keith
Keith
10 months ago
Reply to  Jake Netherton

Might be because up until the 1889 fire, which caused many people to become homeless, vagrancy was considered a crime and would be fined or sentenced to hard labor.

Even after the fire, people griped about the tents, until the city banned them, too.

https://www.seattle.gov/cityarchives/exhibits-and-education/digital-document-libraries/homelessness-in-city-records

Jake Netherton
Jake Netherton
10 months ago
Reply to  Keith

Homelessness has always been a problem, but don’t try to blame them for the majority of urban fires. It’s simply not true.

Reality
Reality
10 months ago
Reply to  Jake Netherton

I never said they are responsible for the majority of fires. Yes I am implying that the number is unacceptably high and it would be good to shine some daylight on that. Stop gaslighting

Jake Netherton
Jake Netherton
10 months ago
Reply to  Reality

I was responding to “Name Here” Calm down.

pump
pump
10 months ago
Reply to  Jake Netherton

uh….that was 1889…just sayin.

Glenn
Glenn
10 months ago
Reply to  Jake Netherton

How about fires per capita? I am quite certain homeless camps, on a per capita basis, suffer more fires than people living in houses, apartments, condos, etc. So, the problem is disproportionate when it cones to homeless people.

d4l3d
d4l3d
10 months ago
Reply to  Name here

The SFD is at my bldg every 2-4 weeks. Not uncommon around the city. Jake is correct.

Charles
Charles
10 months ago
Reply to  d4l3d

And every two to four weeks your building and its tree canopy is burned down? I would suspect the SFD are at your building for other reasons (overdoses, perhaps a kitchen accident etc etc).

These encampment fires are because of drugs. We’ve all seen the nod offs at bus stops with foil and a torch in their hands – now imagine that person passing out with torch going – all it has to do is just barely touch a nylon tent and the whole thing goes up, plus all the propane tanks they’ve stolen laying around.

Please stop excusing or whatabouting this extreme anti-social behavior we’ve all seen plain as day over the last few years. It affects us all, but none more so than those suffering homelessness who truly want help, because its quickly becoming a situation where we have to throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak, in order to solve the crisis.

Hillery
Hillery
10 months ago

There was a big fire like this in the same spot in June. Please get these people homes /shelter.

zach
zach
10 months ago

The regular occurrence of fires/propane explosions in homeless camps is yet another very good reason to support the sweeps. Mayor Harrell is doing a good job on this issue. But many of the camps are on WSDOT land and that state agency is very slow to do anything about them.

Matt
Matt
10 months ago
Reply to  zach

The sweeps push folks further into areas like this that are harder to find and reach, and into abandoned buildings and rural areas where these issues will continue. We need an army of case workers and support staff in addition to much more housing and wraparound services for addiction and mental health. Prison and punitive/abstinence based programs have higher rates of relapse and overdose than those that take a public health approach.

Housing is a global human right (or at least on paper, according the UN charter), and a basic human necessity. We need to seriously reevaluate our commitment to that and decide whether that was meant more like the definition of life liberty and pursuit of happiness that was true during our nations beginnings, or as we have come to envision it today, and what trajectory we want to see society move towards…