WHITE CENTER, Wash. - A fire that ripped through multiple businesses in White Center just days ago has now been classified as arson.
Half a dozen businesses are red-tagged due to the damage and now investigators believe the fire was deliberately set on July 5. Firefighters said they had to take a defensive approach to the blaze when they responded. There was concern that the fire could have been sparked by Fourth of July fireworks, or even accidentally. However, Friday, the King County Sheriff’s Office said investigators discovered new evidence that leads the likely cause of the blaze to be arson.
The fire destroyed multiple businesses including a café that was just about to open, plus a boxing gym, a tattoo shop and a neighborhood bar called Lumber Yard. The space was open to all, but also catered to the queer and LGBT community.
It’s a crime that has left some neighbors worried about losing the positive momentum in White Center.
"I used to be afraid to walk down this neighborhood," said Thelxie Eaves, who said she now regularly walks the avenues without fear. "We need good business owners here who will take care of the area."
Some community organizations shared concern the fire could have targeted at Lumber Yard bar because it catered to the gay community, but a KCSO spokesperson said investigators did not have information available for release that could shed light on motive.
One of the owners of Lumber Yard told Q13 News he considers the arson an act of violence and pledged to work with police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
An award of up to $10,000 is being offered to the person who can help investigators identify whoever is responsible. Tips can be called into 1-800-55-ARSON.
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