Abandoned building burns on 15th Ave., was planned for demolition this week


(Photo courtesy of Mac Jahn from the My Ballard Group)

Updated: Firefighters were called just before 11 last night for a fire in an abandoned, boarded-up building along 15th Ave. near 80th St.

The building was surrounded by chain-link fence, forcing firefighters to cut their way in to access the fire. Low water pressure in the area also complicated efforts to fight the fire, KIRO TV reported.

“The structure began to collapse, and four additional engines and one ladder truck were added to the response,” Seattle Fire explained this morning. “Due to extreme fire damage, fire investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire.”

One firefighter sustained minor injuries. Crews were on scene for several hours to douse hot spots.

The location is 8015 15th Ave. NW, the former home of several small businesses. Two abandoned homes next door were also fenced-off by the city after squatters were reported inside, according to KIRO TV. The building was scheduled for demolition this week, Seattle Fire said.

According to city planning documents, there’s a proposal (.pdf) to build 9 townhomes at the same location as the fire. Here’s the proposed design:

This the second fire in an abandoned home in Ballard in just over a week. On November 26th, a fire burned a vacant house on 63rd near 15th Ave.

And also last night, firefighters contended with fire in a vacant home in the 8500 block of Ashworth Ave., north of Greenwood.

“Abandoned buildings pose a significant risk to responding emergency personnel,” Seattle Fire wrote in a blog post this morning. “Seattle Fire has specific procedures for combating vacant building fires, including fighting the fire from outside the structure.”

(This story was reported as it happened in the My Ballard Facebook Group.)

As cold weather begins, food bank needs help

With the overnight low temperatures getting into 30s, the Ballard Food Bank says it needs cold weather items.

That includes emergency blankets, hats, socks, sleeping bags, gloves, hand-warmers, ponchos, flashlights and batteries (AA and AAA).

The food banks asks that these items are donated new, not recycled.

To drop off your donation, you can visit the Ballard Food Bank on Leary Way on Monday-Thursday. Hours and details are available here.

Thousands visit a very festive Diagon Alley


(Photo from Jon Chambers)

An estimated 5,000 people flocked to Ballard resident Jon Chambers’ house this last weekend for the Dumbledore Santa’s much-anticipated visit at Diagon Alley.

“(It) was a huge success!” Chambers writes on the Diagon Alley Project blog. “We raised $7,300 for Pancreatic Cancer Research, bringing our total since we opened on Halloween to $16,300.”

Long lines wrapped around the block for a turn at touring Chambers’ driveway (just look at this time-lapse video) which has been converted into holiday version of Diagon Alley, complete with character actors, fake snow and more than 60 volunteers.

TV stations KING TV and Q13 covered the event (here are both videos.)


(Photo from Doree)

Even though Dumbledore Santa and the other actors have left, Diagon Alley is still open through the end of year. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. The address is 7514 13th Ave NW.

See more photos from Chambers’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Northwest Seattle’s own community radio station KBFG is on the air

Quietly back in October, a new radio station took to the airwaves, broadcasting from its perch on the Norse Home on Phinney Ridge.

It’s called KBFG (107.3 FM) — which stands for Ballard, Fremont and Greenwood (sorry, Phinney) — a new low-power station that covers much of Northwest Seattle. The volunteer team has worked four years to secure their FCC license and start testing both recorded and live broadcasts. Now they’ve scheduled an official launch party for Dec. 10th.

“We are all pretty much lovers of radio,” explains Pam Burton, a volunteer at the station. “Our big job at the moment is to get the word out that there is a new radio station in North Seattle.”

For a small community station, KBFG’s programming slate is impressive even its its early days: local music, public affairs shows, community events and live play-by-play of Ballard High School varsity basketball games, just added this week.

There’s also Tristan’s Bedtime Radio Hour, airing Sunday’s at 7 p.m., hosted by the father-son duo Tim and Tristan (above) as they talk about dinosaurs, play favorite songs, and take requests from Tristan’s big sisters.

“So far we have been producing programs on our home computers, and then we submit to our KBFG website,” explains Burton. “A team of program volunteers work their magic in the cloud and put the (audio) into AirTime, which is a program that uploads to our station’s computer.”

The programs are distributed both over-the-air on 107.3 FM and live streaming online.

Burton says KBFG is on the hunt for more community programming. “I feel a great need for giving the public a forum to discuss the issues of the day,” she says. “We are preparing to train those who come forward.”

KBFG is also looking for a place to call home. “We would love to find an affordable space in Ballard for the station,” Burton says.

If you’re interesting in pitching a programming idea, here’s how to contact the station. And if you’d like to attend the launch party, it’s December 10th from 2 to 6 p.m. at Peddler’s Brewing in Ballard.

What’s on this weekend in Ballard and beyond

The holiday events are in full swing, including Phinney’s annual Winter Festival and Ballard’s own Dumbledore Santa. So without further ado, here’s the list:

Friday, Dec. 1

Saturday, Dec. 2

Sunday, Dec. 3

You can see events all week long in our Ballard events calendar. Have an event to add? Submit it to our calendar, and we could feature it in our weekly roundup.

Tug boat sinks in Salmon Bay


(Photo from the WA Dept. of Ecology)

An 80-foot tug boat sank while docked on the Ballard side of Salmon Bay on Thursday, leaving an oil sheen on the surface. Just a small part of the vessel is still visible.

Crews from the WA Department of Ecology and the Coast Guard placed oil booms and absorbent pads on the water, and they’re working to pump as much fuel out of the sunken vessel as possible. As many as 620 gallons of diesel were on board.

The owner of the tug will be responsible for surfacing and removing the vessel.

Dumbledore Santa is coming to Diagon Alley in Ballard this weekend

Ballard’s own Diagon Alley will host a special visitor this Saturday and Sunday: Dumbledore Santa himself. And it’s shaping up to be a big holiday event.

“Our Dumbledore Santa is a 30-year small theater pro,” explains Jon Chambers, who created Diagon Alley in his Ballard driveway for Halloween. “He will be getting professional hair and beard extensions Saturday morning from a professional volunteering her time.”

That’s just for starters. Nearly 30 Harry Potter characters — lots of wizards — will make appearances at various times over the weekend. A new two-story children’s playhouse in the likeness of Gringotts bank — complete with the dragon on top, created by artist Frank Carillo — will open for the first time along with the Leaky Cauldron playhouse.

“The girls are selling Harry Potter themed sugar cookies, peppermint hot cocoa and Butter Beer from the newly completed Leaky Cauldron,” explains Chambers.

And there will be snow: 180 gallons of fake snow covering the alley.

“We are expecting massive crowds and lines, so we are treating the event like Halloween and cycling people through around scansions. We will have helpers on site for crowd control,” he said.

Chamber estimates as many as 10,000 people have visited Diagon Alley so far, and he’s raised $8,400 for pancreatic cancer research — and counting. All donations taken at the door will also go to PurpleStride.

Santa will be visiting this Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. The address is 7514 13th Ave NW.

Sunset Hill home heavily damaged in fire


(Photo by Seattle Fire)

Just after 10 last night, firefighters responded to 71st. St. and 30th Ave. in Sunset Hill for a report of flames showing from a two-story home. Fortunately by the time they arrived, the residents had safely evacuated.

Firefighters made short work of the fire, but the second floor sustained heavy damage. This morning Seattle Fire says an electrical fire ignited nearby combustibles in the upstairs bedroom. They estimate the loss to be $290,000.

The Red Cross was called to help the two displaced residents.

‘Hop Idol’ contest is back at Reuben’s Brews

Are you brewing in your garage? Have dreams of distributing your own beer?

Reuben’s Brews is bringing back its “Hop Idol” contest for a second year. Jonathan Cooper won the first annual contest, and Reuben’s brewed a 30 barrel batch of his IPA to serve in the Ballard taproom and distribute in draft and bottles throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Like last year, this year’s winner will be entered in the Pro-Am category at the Great American Beer Festival. Just make sure you’re entering a “hop-forward” brew.

Here are the rules. You have time to perfect your creation — the entry deadline is February 12th.