Skip to main content

Green Lake Plaza fire claims life of elderly man

Seventh floor apartment destroyed;
15 residents displaced temporarily

Green Lake Plaza fire damage

Fire damage can be seen on the north side of the building.

SEATTLE — February 16, 2010 — Seventh floor apartment destroyed; 15 residents displaced temporarily

An intense fire in Apartment 707 at Green Lake Plaza took the life of its occupant, Alphonso Goldwire, age 71, on Monday afternoon, February 15.

The fire broke out about 1:30 p.m. Soon after, heavy smoke and flames billowed from the apartment’s windows, which had been blown out by the force of the fire. Notified by the building’s fire alarm system, the Seattle Fire Department responded with over 100 firefighters. They classified the blaze as a two-alarm fire. It was brought under control in about 15 minutes and was extinguished by about 2 p.m.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It is under investigation by the Seattle Fire Department and the Medical Examiner’s office. A report on the cause of the fire is not expected before the weekend.

All building occupants were evacuated to the building grounds. Once the fire was extinguished, and the Fire Department had determined that it was safe to enter, residents congregated in the first floor community room. Red Cross volunteers assisted, providing food and beverages for all and arranging shelter for those whose apartments could not be immediately re-occupied. Firefighters and Seattle Housing Authority employees worked together to allow residents limited access as needed over the next several hours.

Seattle Housing Authority electricians and construction workers began work immediately to reset all of the building’s fire alarms, and begin re-wiring to restore the seventh-floor alarms. This work was completed by about 7 p.m., and residents were then able to begin returning to their apartments.

Apartments on the seventh floor and the apartments directly above and below the unit that burned were without electricity and thus not habitable. Residents of these units stayed with friends or relatives overnight or were housed temporarily at the nearby Green Lake Community Center. In all, 15 people were temporarily displaced. Carpenters and electricians are working to restore electricity to the seventh floor and to clear away smoke damage and repair doors that were damaged as firefighters went door to door to make sure that residents had been evacuated.

Building managers and repair workers say they hope that electricity will be restored and residents will be able to re-occupy their apartments by the weekend.

Apartment 707 was completely destroyed in the blaze, and the apartments adjacent to it were damaged by smoke and water. Overall damages to the building are estimated at between $225,000 and $300,000.

Green Lake Plaza contains 129 one-bedroom and studio apartments. It is operated within the Seattle Housing Authority’s low-income public housing program, which means that its residents have incomes of less than 30 percent of the area median income ($17,700 for a single person or $20,220 for a couple). Many residents of the building are elderly or disabled or both.

Built in 1971, the masonry building is not equipped with sprinklers. (At the time of construction, building codes did not require sprinkler systems.) Exterior walls and those separating each apartment are made of concrete, and interior hallway walls are made of drywall on metal studs. Use of these materials makes the building highly fire resistant, as demonstrated by the containment of this fire.

Friends and family of residents needing information about their welfare may call the Green Lake Plaza office at 206-527-6000.