SEATTLE — About 30 boats were destroyed in a fire on Lake Union near the Ship Canal Bridge early Wednesday morning.
The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) said the fire started at a dry storage facility along 701 NE Northlake Way around 2 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find the entire storage facility on fire. The flames reached as high as 70 feet and the fire could be seen miles away, according to firefighters on the scene.
"I just received a late night call that there was a fire reported and just immediately felt sadness," said James Baker, the general manager of Seattle Boat Company, which is where the fire happened.
Authorities originally said 42 boats were destroyed by the fire but revised their estimate after further analysis from fire investigators. A few boats near trailers were salvaged. The facility was used by people storing their boats for a longer period of time.
"I got a message this morning saying that there was a fire down here," said Scott Coleman, whose family's boat burned in the fire. "We've had it here for years and there's never been a problem. Apparently, it's arson, which is really unfortunate, but there's been a lot of crime lately."
Hours after the flames started, police said a man was escorted from the scene in handcuffs. SPD announced Wednesday afternoon that a 32-year-old suspect was identified and arrested. Police said during the investigation an Arson Bomb Squad found the suspect hiding in a boat moored in the water.
The suspect is in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center. Once he is medically cleared, he will be booked into King County Jail.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire and the total amount of damages. There was some damage to the back of a business along NE Northlake Way, according to officials.
Officials said more than 100 personnel responded to the early morning fire, including 14 fire engines, five ladder trucks, Fireboat Chief Seattle and additional support units, along with the Coast Guard.
Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Lights shut off power to two buildings while firefighters battled the fire.
The Washington Department of Ecology and the Coast Guard evaluated the area for any spills or pollution, but did not find anything of concern.
The boatyard fire comes one day after firefighters responded to five separate fires across western Washington on Tuesday.
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