Valley Regional Fire Authority investigators on Friday determined that an arsonist set the four-alarm fire that overwhelmed the Auburn Way Self-Storage building on Auburn Way North on Wednesday.
Investigators said they believe the arsonist lit the fire in a single storage unit in building “E”. For the sake of the ongoing investigation, investigators have not yet released the source of ignition and the materials first set ablaze.
Fire investigators said that 70-80 of the 105 units in the building had been damaged or destroyed. Twenty units were not in use.
VRFA firefighters responded to a report of smoke coming from Auburn Way Self-Storage in the 4500 block of Auburn Way North just after 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. First arriving crews reported that the fire had spread to several units. Firefighters quickly attacked the fire by gaining access to each individual storage unit. The fire was soon upgraded to a second and then a third alarm.
Crews from Kent Regional Fire Authority, South King Fire and Rescue, King County Medic One, East Pierce Fire & Rescue and King County Fire District No. 44 assisted.
Because of the heat and the need to rotate and rehabilitate firefighters, a fourth alarm was called, and units from the Renton and Tacoma fire departments covered two of the VRFA fire stations.The Tukwila Fire Explorers also helped with rehabilitation. A Metro bus was brought in to use as a cooling station for firefighters.
One firefighter from a neighboring jurisdiction sustained a minor finger injury but nobody else was hurt.The fire was extinguished at 3:45 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters stayed on the scene overnight monitoring for hot spots.
Eleven fire engines, three ladder trucks, two aid cars, one medic unit and numerous support personnel were used during the course of the fire. The total number of responders exceeded 70.There were no fire sprinklers in the building. They were not required at the time of construction, the VRFA said.
There are 11 buildings at the facility. The fire was contained to building E.
Investigators are following up leads in cooperation with the Auburn Police Department. Anyone who believes they have information that would be helpful to the investigation should call the Arson Tip Line at 253-856-4460 and leave a message.
The VRFA has released the property back to the owner of the storage facility. Those who wish to access their storage units should contact Auburn Way Self Storage.