White Center business core hit with another devastating fire

Yet another building in Seattle's White Center neighborhood erupted into flames, this time early Monday morning. 

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene around 5 a.m., flames were so intense that they had to focus on keeping the fire from spreading to neighboring structures. 

The building that burned appeared as a total loss. It sits only yards south of where another fire destroyed multiple businesses back in July. The summer fire is considered arson, but fire officials said Monday’s blaze does not look suspicious, adding their investigation is not yet complete.

The cleanup began late Monday morning at Kevin Bui’s Huong Xua Vietnamese deli. The floor was scattered with water and debris and a hole could be seen in the restaurant’s ceiling. 

"I worry about my family," Bui said. "We depend on the business."

Firefighters tore through the deli’s roof to keep fire spreading from next door. 

The fire started at the Locker Room Tavern. The business had been closed ever since a smaller fire caused damage back in April. The owner says permits green lighting repairs meant reopening wasn’t far off, but not anymore.  

"My last fire was ruled an accident, but this just makes me wonder," said Rick Robegno. 

King County fire officials told Q13 News that Monday morning’s 3-alarm fire is not considered suspicious but investigators continue looking for clues. 

"This is my neighborhood," said Mark Eklund. "I’m through here every day. This seems like a tragedy."

"Are we going to have to start walking the blocks at night to stop it?" asked neighbor Lorne Hill

At least two other businesses near the tavern suffered water and smoke damage. Bui’s deli has been a staple on 16th Avenue South for decades. Kevin has been at the helm for the last two years, but he worries about the challenges ahead.

"I don’t know how long it will take to reopen again," he said. 

The 3-alarm fire was so intense firefighters as far as Renton responded to help keep it from spreading farther than it did. 

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