September 28, 2016 – At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27 a fire broke out at a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) property, the Lam Bow apartments located at 6955 Delridge Way SW in West Seattle.
An SHA maintenance worker was working in the nearby office when he heard a resident shout “Fire!” He raced into the building with a fire extinguisher but quickly realized the smoke was thick and the fire too big to manage. He and a Seattle Police Department officer, who had seen the flames as he happened by and entered the building, went door to door in the burning building and guided everyone out to safety. No one was injured in the blaze.
Seattle Fire Department responded to the three-alarm fire with more than 100 firefighters, joined by dozens of Seattle Police department officers. There are two buildings at Lam Bow and, through the efforts of these responders, the fire was contained to Building B and did not affect any other neighboring homes or buildings. SHA has confirmed with staff and other first responders on site that the building’s general and in-unit fire safety alarms were functioning and properly activated by the fire. The Seattle Fire Department has not yet released the results of their investigation into the cause of the fire.
There are 21 units in Building B; two were vacant. Nineteen households, 44 adults and children, are displaced by the fire. SHA understands the trauma and loss that residents are experiencing and staff are devoting all available resources, and reaching out to provider partners, to mitigate the impact on their lives as much as possible.
The Red Cross sent volunteers to the site of the fire to work with residents on emergency housing and other needs. The Red Cross established an emergency shelter site at the nearby Delridge Community Center and is providing housing, food and other services to 28 residents. Others had family, friends or other resources to take them in.
SHA is working internally and with partner housing providers to get residents affected by the fire moved in to replacement subsidized housing over the next few days. SHA has secured the building and is engaging a structural engineer to assess the building to determine whether it’s safe for staff, inspectors or any other persons to enter. A determination is not final but SHA believes it is likely the building will be a total loss and will need to be replaced with a new building, which means a longer time frame. With that in mind, SHA staff are working closely with residents to determine their specific needs in a new residence, including number of bedrooms, proximity to schools and access to jobs, so that SHA can place residents in new homes that will meet their needs.
Community members have expressed interest in helping displaced residents with financial assistance and donations of food, kitchenware, bedding, clothing and other necessities to replace what may have been lost in the fire. SHA is coordinating with local community organizations to identify a process by which donations can be received and distributed directly to residents. On its website and through media, SHA will announce as soon as possible details of how people can help.
SHA deeply appreciates the courage of its staff member and Seattle Police officer who helped save lives by getting residents out of the building, the hundreds of first responders who contained the fire, the Red Cross for emergency housing and services, and all members of the community who have or will help in other ways.
About Seattle Housing Authority
The mission of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes. SHA provides long-term, low-income rental housing and rental assistance to more than 30,000 people in the City of Seattle. SHA owns and operates approximately 8,000 units at nearly 400 sites throughout the city. SHA also handles more than 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, enabling low-income residents to receive rental assistance throughout the Seattle housing market. Approximately 13,000 SHA residents are elderly or disabled and about 9,500 are children. SHA, a public corporation established in 1939, is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. More information is available at seattlehousing.org.