Burien school fire now being investigated as arson, latest in series of statewide fires

Jul 11, 2024, 10:19 AM | Updated: 6:53 pm

burien fire...

King County Firetruck en route to respond to a fire. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

After crews responded to reports of a fire at Southern Heights Elementary School in Burien Tuesday night, a King County fire marshal said the department’s investigation believes this was an act of arson.

The fire burned for more than seven hours, causing significant damage to the gym and other school buildings, including the collapse of the gym’s roof the following morning. The total damages could cost millions of dollars to replace and repair.

In the following investigation King County Fire District 2, detectives found surveillance video of a black sedan with a few people inside parked at the school lot. The security footage allegedly showed the individuals attempting to light what appeared to be fireworks when one of the fireworks hit a brush, starting a fire.

More local fires: SR 99 north in Seattle reopens after major brush fire closed it for hours

“This is difficult news, but our priority and commitment is making sure that we have a safe and comfortable learning environment by day one on the first day of school in the fall,” Tove Tupper, Director of Communications with Highline Public Schools, told KIRO 7.

The school was shuttered a few years ago, but the Highline School District still uses the campus for its Virtual Academy and Innovation Heights program. Approximately 250 students are enrolled in those programs.

King County Fire District 2 confirmed there were at least two other fires in the area overnight as well. One fire was reported coming from a box truck, while the second was in a school dumpster in Normandy Park.

Fires sprouting across region over past week

A two-alarm fire that started just after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the Vine Court Apartments in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood killed one person and injured another six, according to the Seattle Fire Department (SFD).

SFD officials stated the fire started on the third floor of the building and spread to the fourth floor. Among the six injured, one was taken to the hospital in “critical condition,” as of this reporting.

More on the fatal Belltown fire: One dead, six injured in Belltown apartment fire; 50 residents displaced

Fire shuts down SR 24 in Yakima

Approximately 20 vehicles at Nob Hill Auto Wrecking in Yakima caught fire after flames erupted in the property Wednesday night. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had to shut down State Route 24 from University Place to Interstate 82 in order to deal with the fire and keep other drivers safe.

No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

Georgetown fire causes power outage

Seattle City Light reported hundreds of customers were without power after a massive brush fire sparked in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood next to the First Avenue bridge Wednesday. The fire spread to an RV and several semis.

A witness told KIRO 7 she saw a driver flick a cigarette out a window at the time the fire sparked.

“There was a car that was going by and they flipped a cigarette out their window,” the eyewitness told KIRO 7. “And then it lit the brush on fire and then the brush started going and moving down the hill.”

The flames took out at least three power poles alongside other damages.

Man dies in east Pierce County fire

Firefighters found the body of a 66-year-old man after they extinguished a fire that erupted from his mobile home Sunday night. The fire occurred near State Route 165 and 150th Street.

Woodinville apartment fire hospitalizes two

Two people were taken to the hospital after a two-alarm fire erupted at a Woodinville apartment complex.

The fire happened at the Campbell Run Apartments on NE 171st Street, according to KIRO 7. The fire started shortly after 11 p.m. Monday, and crews had the fire under control within a half hour.

The two people in the apartment were both injured, with one person transported to a local hospital with significant injuries.

WA undergoing statewide burn ban

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) instituted a statewide burn ban Wednesday due to “fire conditions remaining elevated.”

Hot dry temperatures are raising the risk of wildfires, and the recent heat wave stretching across the Pacific Northwest made the region susceptible to all sorts of fires — wildfires, house fires, acts of arson.

More local fires: Pioneer Fire on north shore of Lake Chelan deemed ‘disaster,’ continues to spread

Other West Coast states have their work cut out for them this fire season alongside Washington. Several wildfires are burning in Oregon, including one about 111 miles east of Portland that blew up to 11 square miles due to windy conditions.

Meanwhile, California firefighters have battled more than 3,500 wildfires in 2024 alone. The fires have burned approximately 325 square miles in total.

Contributing: KIRO 7

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Burien school fire now being investigated as arson, latest in series of statewide fires