Encampment fire under Seattle’s Ship Canal Bridge causes backups on I-5

Sep 28, 2022, 7:37 AM | Updated: 9:43 am
ship canal bridge...
Photo by Sam Campbell

Update 7:54 a.m.: The two lanes blocked by the fire have been cleared.

Original Story: An encampment fire underneath Seattle’s Ship Canal Bridge caused traffic backups along Interstate 5 Wednesday morning.

KIRO Newsradio’s Sam Campbell says that fire crews have extinguished all but the embers of the fire under the bridge, but lanes continued to crawl past emergency vehicles throughout the morning. Traffic is expected to return to normal as crews continue to get the fire extinguished.

Seattle Police Department officials say they don’t know how the fire started but they knew there was combustible materials inside the homeless camp under the bridge.

Firefighters and police responded after reports of smoke and fire from drivers on the bridge, and firefighters say they saw billowing smoke and heard popping from lithium-ion batteries, making them call in for backup.

“Obviously, we take a look at bridge structure integrity and items such as [exploding batteries.] And we typically don’t see damage in that regard from fires like these, but it’s still worth taking a look at,” James Poling, a communications manager with WSDOT said.

William Hughes says he’s lived in the camp for more than a year, and now, he’s left with next to nothing.

“Now for me, I have to figure out where dinner tonight is coming from,” Hughes said. “All of my food just burnt up.”

There’s been no word on what caused the fire to start.

“All lanes are back open on the express lane. Safety is obviously paramount,” Poling said. “Our crews are examining and if there’s anything found we will make sure that public safety is taken into consideration.”

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Encampment fire under Seattle’s Ship Canal Bridge causes backups on I-5