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Update Friday Harbor Fire: 6 structures involved; estimated $10 million in losses

Update from Kim Kimple, Public Information Officer: What a day! First and foremost, I want to thank you all for your patience as we worked to provide up to date information on the incident in Friday Harbor.

 

Site partially demolished as of Thursday, April 7 evening. Matt Pranger photos

 

I would also like to recognize the following agencies who provided support during this incident:

San Juan County Dispatch,

San Juan Island Fire,

Orcas Island Fire,

Lopez Island Fire,

San Juan County Sheriff’s Office,

San Juan EMS,

Skagit Fire District #14,

Sky Valley Fire,

South County Fire,

Department of Emergency Management,

Washington State Ferries,

San Juan County Fire Marshal’s Office,

local utility companies,

Town of Friday Harbor Public Works,

M.E.M. Excavation

Region 3 Arson Taskforce which provides fire investigation resources from Whatcom, Skagit, Island, and San Juan Counties.

It really took the teamwork of our local region to ensure this incident was mitigated safely and effectively.

The fire was reported near the intersection of 1st and Spring Street at 3:43 a.m. by a local tow truck driver. Crews arrived on scene and implemented an offensive interior attack prior to withdrawing and engaging in a full defensive attack as the fire spread to surrounding structures. Crews worked tirelessly protecting exposures including several other buildings in close proximity.

A total of six structures sustained fire damage, three of which were a total loss, and multiple surrounding businesses remain closed due to the heavy smoke that filled the air and surrounding HVAC systems. It is unclear how many businesses are impacted by the fire at this time, though we have confirmed there were at least six businesses located within those totaled structures including a tavern, a coffee shop, real estate offices, a wine bar, a kayak tour business, and private offices.

This fire has come as a devastating blow to the community of Friday Harbor, leveling businesses and destroying historical landmarks – some dating back as early as late 1800s.

The Douglas House Hotel (c. 1884) was the first hostelry in town. This was most recently the Windermere Realty building.  Information from Historian Mike Vouri

Fire officials have calculated an early estimate of $10 million in losses and will know more as they continue to assess the full extent of the damage.

Crews will remain on scene through the night to provide chain-of-custody of the scene and provide suppression on any remaining hot spots.

Greg King, owner of Windermere Realty building, viewing the ruins with two fire department staff. Matt Pranger photo

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, and the Arson Task Force will be assisting local fire officials in the investigation due to the magnitude of this fire. The investigation is anticipated to be ongoing throughout the coming week.

No injuries were reported throughout the duration of the incident and no individuals were believed to be in the building at the time of the fire.

 

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