LOCAL NEWS

White Center businesses reopening after destructive fire

Aug 30, 2021, 7:10 AM | Updated: 10:53 am
White Center fire...
A fire in White Center in late July. (Skyway Fire)
(Skyway Fire)

The White Center business district that was hit by arson nearly two months ago turned into a fundraising block party Sunday.

That fire was set at a gay bar but spread quickly to nearby businesses.

No arrests have been made, but there is some progress for the businesses. Some of them are reopening.

The block party is a sign, according to the attendees, of how close and caring this community is. It was a nice welcome in this White Center business district that has had its share of adversity.

“This is their home away from home,” said Alvin Jansuy of Beacon Hill. “You come out to your local neighborhood, your community for support, your sense of ownership, I guess.”

That sense was made stronger by the arson that tore through the businesses in early July.

“They’re like a huge part of this community,” said Erica Bush of White Center. “And we were horrified that it happened. So it’s really, really great to see how people have responded to coming out and supporting them.”

“The building definitely burned down,” said Sharon Lei. “But the passion and love to serve the community has not.”

Lei helped organize the party. She was about to open her bubble tea business when the fire broke out.

“Our goal here is just to kind of bring vibes to White Center,” she said. “You know, bring that positivity. See that music. Everyone’s having fun. Bring some love, some joy, some smiles.”

That was sorely lacking that terrible night nearly two months ago.

But now the Lumberyard — the strip’s only gay bar and the arsonist’s target — will soon reopen; many of the adjacent businesses will as well.

“Luckily, a lot of them are slowly finding their places,” said Michale Farrar, Lumberyard’s co-owner. “I mean, the tattoo place found a place. One of the hair salons did. The Mexican market found a new place. So, you can, I guess, burn us down. But we’re going to come right back.”

And his 8-year-old son approves.

“I’m just excited that the whole community got together again after all the destruction,” said Markus Adams-Farrar, “and like everything that’s been happening in the world.”

Many of the businesses had GoFundMe accounts. But not all got what they needed to start back up.

The organizers said all of the proceeds from the block party will go to businesses that need it.

They added it’s a way to restore what the fire could not destroy.

Written by KIRO 7 TV reporter Deborah Horne

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White Center businesses reopening after destructive fire