Small fire damages former brewery in Tumwater

The small fire was discovered about 1 p.m. Thursday in the building on the right, the city of Tumwater announced.
The small fire was discovered about 1 p.m. Thursday in the building on the right, the city of Tumwater announced. Courtesy

A day after Tumwater’s mayor reiterated his concerns about the state of the former Olympia Brewing Co. buildings and the lack of building security, fire crews responded to a small blaze there Thursday afternoon.

Fire crews traced the source of the small fire to a makeshift wood stove that was being used to burn off the plastic coating of electrical parts and wires, according to the city.

Tumwater firefighters were called to 100 Custer Way SW about 1 p.m. after a report of black smoke. A second call confirming that information resulted in an upgrade from smoke investigation to commercial structure fire.

That triggered a mutual aid response that was eventually canceled after fire crews located the fire without difficulty and quickly extinguished it, according to the city.

Despite the size of the fire, the incident speaks to what has happened to the brewery property over the years as it has sat unused. In addition to a major fire there in October, Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet said vandals and others have gained access to the various brewery buildings south of Custer Way and damaged them.

“There are literally dozens of people taking it apart from the inside out,” Kmet told The Olympian on Wednesday.

Kmet also announced the city was going to step up enforcement of city codes to spur the brewery owner to do more with the property. Tumwater Development LLC bought the property in December 2015, yet redevelopment activity has yet to take place.

On Oct. 22, the city issued four code violations for overgrown vegetation, dilapidated fencing, graffiti and an unsecured building.

The first fine totaled $100 and it was paid, city spokeswoman Ann Cook told The Olympian Wednesday.

The next inspection is set for Friday. If no corrective action has been taken, the owner is facing a $100 fine per day, per violation ($400 per day) for the past 81 days, which will total $32,400, Cook said.

And if there is still no corrective action after Friday’s inspection, the fine goes up to $200 per day, per violation. The next inspection would take place in 30 days, she said. The city also has issued several building violations as well, Cook said.