Major fire burns under Ballard Bridge

Updated 1:55 a.m. The Ballard Bridge reopened just before 2 a.m., two hours after a major fire burned underneath the south end of the structure.

My Ballard reader stringsofviolets posted this photo of the fire, taken about 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday. “We heard a bunch of pops and thought it was gunfire and then almost immediately heard all the sirens, looked out the window and we could see the glow of the flames,” she said.

The fire burned directly under the bridge at what appears to be a storage area.

As the smoke began to clear, from our vantage point, we could see several boats and a truck charred in the fire, as well as the side of the bridge. Seattle Fire asked that the Seattle Department of Transportation be called in to inspect the bridge before it reopened, which explains the two-hour closure.

Police officers responded quickly, shutting down the bridge in all directions — even the pathways leading up to the bridge — because the heavy smoke was obscuring traffic on the south side.

My Ballard reader Andrew sent us this photo, showing the smoke blowing towards Ballard. The original call came in at 11:25 p.m., and this photo was taken at 11:50 p.m. The fire was declared out shortly after midnight. A fire department spokeswoman says four small boats and a truck were damaged. Fire investigators are working on identifying what sparked the blaze.

Several My Ballard readers posted information in the forum during the fire, both from the scanner and from visual accounts. And here are a few more photos. (Thanks Silver, stringofviolets, Charles and Andrew for your help!)

You can see the blackened section of the bridge. Spotlights were shined on the side of the bridge to inspect the damage.

MyBallard reader Charles sent us this photo of the view from Ballard.

Fire units lined the shoreline on the south side of the Ship Canal.

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Kristopher
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Kristopher

Watched as 2 Police boats raced down the canal, passing Seattle Pacific University. Also heard many sirens, from the road. The boats slowed and disappeared out of eye shot by the time they hit the Ballard bridge.

MCK-#9
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MCK-#9

Vandals or bums.
The bottom of the bridge really needs to be cleaned out.

Farmer Ted
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Farmer Ted

Oh man, Ballard is in trouble if that bridge is damaged.

kim
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kim

good for ballard on the reassignment of the fire boat a few years ago.

mike
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mike

Its too bad the fireboat crews we’rent even notified. Apparently dispatchers figured they were not necessary

Bill
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Bill

I wonder if this is related to the other ‘explosions’ that haven been going on in/around Ballard the last couple of months… Like the paint can explosion behind FedEx, etc.

Lorn
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Lorn

The paint can explosion behind FedEx was done by teenagers. They were seen & identified to the police at the time.

Though I have not been there in several months I used to walk across the bridge daily and would frequently use the stairs that go under the right at the point of the fire. There used to be a little shelter that some homeless person built right at the bottom of the stairs. I think it’s a good bet that a homeless person started a fire to keep warm and it got out of hand.

ballardcrab
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ballardcrab

It seems there is a never-ending list of complaints about what goes on in that area. The responce is always – the homeless have to live somewhere! There is so much at stake in that area, it’s time it becomes off-limits for camp-outs.

SFD Firedude
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SFD Firedude

@ mike – It’s true the SFD fireboat(s) were not dispatched. SPD’s boat (Harbor4, I think) was there and it has some firefighting capability. The SPD boat wasn’t needed for the firefighting effort. The police boat(s) don’t usually wait for our (SFD’s) request. They just show up.

The responding SFD units are automatically picked by computer at the Fire Alarm Center based upon the type and location of the incident. The closest SFD fireboat is generally dispatched for fire incidents within a block or so of navigable waterways. I don’t know if that’s automatic based on location or if the SFD dispatchers manually add them. There was some initial confusion as to the scope and exact location of this fire. I would GUESS that’s why E1 or the Chief Seattle (the small and large fireboats at Fishermen’s Terminal) weren’t ever dispatched. In any case, at this particular scene, they weren’t needed.

Tall guy
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Tall guy

I was totally there. they tried to get me and all the others on the 17 bus to walk to the Fremont bridge to catch a different bus. F that… I ended up walking through the smoke instead with two other guys. it reeked.

Seattle Westie
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Seattle Westie

Good job to the night shift Seattle Volunteer Firefighters. I hope your Station parking is adequate. I told you that you don’t need a fireboat…. Silly Firefighters.
~Mayor McGinn

Dale
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Dale

With the new Homeless shelter that is to be built on 56th st will surely increase out troubles