'Collapse zone' set up at scene of downtown Seattle building fire

'Collapse zone' set up at scene of downtown Seattle building fire

'Collapse zone' set up at scene of downtown Seattle building fire

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by KING 5 News

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM

SEATTLE -- Investigators don't know when they will be able to get into a building heavily damaged by fire on Tuesday.

“The structural integrity of the building is in question due to the fire and the amount of water that was put into the building," Sue Stangl with Seattle Fire said Wednesday.

"I'm pretty sure it's going to be quite some time before we can really determine all the details, what caused this fire," she said.

Roads remain closed in the "collapse zone" around the building, Stangl said.

The fire in three-story building in the 600 block of S King St. was reported just before 4 p.m. and wasn't under control until 10:30 p.m.

Stangl said when firefighters arrived there were already flames shooting from the roof of the building. They were able to get almost up to the third floor, but they were pulled out.

“If you can imagine three floors of an apartment-style building that has been untouched for upwards of 20-plus years, so even without a fire load, without heat, smoke or water, it’s a fairly dangerous area to send people in,” she said.

“It made it very challenging to do what we normally do, which is enter a building and fight inside the building and try to get water directly on the fire,” she said.

Firefighters took a defensive stance, so it look longer to put the fire out.

There were no injuries.

King County Metro provided a bus as a warming shelter for the 20 adults and 2 children who were initially evacuated from their homes.

The 104-year-old building houses businesses on the ground floor. The Red Cross said 46 people who had been evacuated from nearby apartments spent Tuesday night at a shelter nearby.

Building site of mass murder

The building was the site of Washington state's deadliest mass killing -- the 1983 Wah Mee massacre.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 1983, three men entered the illegal Wah Mee gambling club in the building's basement and hogtied, robbed and shot 14 patrons. Thirteen of them died. One survived and was able to identify the assailants.

The Washington Department of Corrections parole board decided at the end of October to

parole

one of the men convicted in the mass killing after 30 years in prison and turn him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport him to Hong Kong.

Wai Chiu "Tony" Ng (eng) was convicted of robbery and assault for his role in the shooting at the Wah Mee club.

Co-defendants Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak and Benjamin Ng were convicted of aggravated murder and are serving life sentences without the chance of parole. Tony Ng is not related to Benjamin Ng.

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