A fire that extensively damaged several businesses in White Center earlier this week is now being investigated as arson by the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident, which occurred Monday, was reclassified due to new evidence, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tim Meyer. He declined to share details Friday, citing an active investigation.
Authorities said the fire appeared to have started at the neighborhood’s first LGBTQ+ bar, The Lumber Yard, located near the corner of 16th Avenue Southwest and Roxbury Street, before spreading to other businesses. (LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, with the + denoting everything along the gender and sexuality spectrum.)
A tattoo parlor, Rat City Tat2, was damaged, along with a salon, a boxing gym, a bar called Dottie’s Double Wide and a Mexican grocery store called La Típica Oaxaqueña. No injuries were reported.
On Instagram Friday, The Lumber Yard said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. “The Lumberyard is a all inclusive space for our community and it saddens us that it would be targeted for such an act,” the business wrote on Instagram.
Meyer said investigators are working to identify a suspect and motive.
“We’re going to let evidence and time do its job in this case and hopefully determine that,” he said. “We never rule anything in or out.”
Fires are classified in one of three ways: accidental, undetermined or arson, Meyer said. This fire was initially classified as accidental.
A Seattle Fire Department truck in the area was flagged down by someone who reported the businesses were on fire at about 2 a.m. Monday, according to South King County Fire & Rescue.
A GoFundMe page has raised over $100,000 to help pay for damage to The Lumber Yard. Other businesses also have fundraisers listed online.