Firefighters were called for the second time in two days to the site of a two-alarm warehouse fire that originally started Tuesday in the 200 block of Adams Street in downtown Olympia. Fire broke out around 2:33 a.m. Wednesday in an inaccessible corner of the burned building. A hot spot in the southwest corner of the warehouse was hidden underneath a pile of debris, Deputy Fire Chief Gregory Wright said. The debris pile caused significant runoff, which blocked water from reaching the hot spot Tuesday morning.
“When there is a big pile of burn material and water can’t infiltrate it, then it can get hot enough to turn into flames,” Wright said. “It’s always possible and that’s why we checked it multiple times yesterday.”
The inside of the warehouse was too unstable for investigators to go inside Tuesday, but it was checked throughout the day. The warehouse was last checked at 10 p.m., but the hot spot was invisible and continued to heat up.
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A passerby dialed 911 around 2:33 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Firefighters first arrived at 2:38 and began flowing water from the outside of the barrier fence that had been erected the day before to secure the area. They continued flowing water for another 15 minutes from an aerial device, ladder truck, extended over the top of the damaged walls, directly above the fire until it was extinguished.
No firefighters entered the previously destroyed building.
Olympia Fire Department responded with 4 engines, 1 ladder truck, 2 medic units, and a command unit. Several of the Olympia units along with the resources from Lacey Fire District 3 were quickly returned to service while other Olympia crews remained on scene to continue checking for hot spots.
Fire investigators, the City of Olympia Building Official and the property owner/operators worked at the scene Tuesday to secure any access to the building. Fire Investigators gathered reports and pictures of the damage.
The cause of the fire is undetermined.
Preliminary damage estimates are $350,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents. On Wednesday morning the city will continue to work with the building owners to initiate tear down of the remaining structure.
The building was built before 1920 as part of a lumber mill and housed a number of different tenants over the years. Most currently, it was a storage warehouse for a local fuel company with the tea wholesaler and wood shop renting space.