Updated: Wednesday, May 21.
During a routine Monday afternoon, Brian Barrick, owner of Sequim Consignment Co., found nearly five years of hard work gone.
An attic fire took his business and the neighboring Baja Cantina Fresh Mexican Grill at 820 W. Washington St., starting around 1:07 p.m. on May 19.
“I was doing some normal desk work with an employee until we smelled something burning but we couldn’t see anything,” Barrick said. “We checked a few places but couldn’t spot anything. I looked in the attic and saw something glowing.”
Patrick Young, public information officer for Clallam County Fire District 3, said paramedics en route to another call spotted smoke from the building and called it in moments before Barrick called 9-1-1, too. Employees from both businesses evacuated with one employee examined for smoke inhalation but not treated.
“I am not sure what happened,” said Baja Cantina co-owner Martha Acosta as she watched the building engulf in smoke. “We just saw some smoke coming from the far end of the building.”
Fire crews used 2 million gallons of water to extinguish the fire through 5:30 p.m. with two ladder trucks, one from Fire District 3 and the City of Port Angeles, Young said.
Because of the massive amount of water used to fight the fire, City of Sequim officials lined the sides of West Washington Street with sandbags to help control the run-off and charred bits of debris.
Washington Street was closed for about four hours until the westbound lane was shifted to the center lane. Officials remained on scene through the night to contain the fire’s hot spots.
“There’s no definitive cause yet,” Young said. “We’ve dubbed it as an attic fire.”
Fire officials haven’t been able to go inside the building due to unsafe conditions but Young said they would secure the area with fencing on Tuesday and begin removing dangerous items with an excavator this week.
The fire proved to be a difficult fire to access, Young said, because of its location within the attic and upper-part of the building. Firefighters used chainsaws and other tools to create openings through the building’s exterior near the gable ends to better access the fire within.
“We had to get off the roof because the fire was underneath us,” District 3 Firefighter Steve Chinn said after an attempt at fighting the fire from the rooftop.
Young said they haven’t received any reports of damage to neighboring businesses but the two businesses’ building was lost.
Barrick said he’s owned and operated Sequim Consignment Co., for 4½ years and his partner Candy Diesen owned the building for about 10 years. They were both insured as was Baja Cantina.
Arturo Briseno, co-owner of Baja Cantina, said he was glad nothing happened to anyone and they are brainstorming options for reopening.
The business, which opened in early 2013, featured authentic, hot Mexican food.
“We do want to reopen,” Arturo Briseno said. “There are good people who want to support us. We’ll be here.”
Barrick said the fire puts his Sequim Consignment Co. out of business and he’s not sure what he’s going to do with it.
“It’s a real tragedy,” he said. “We feel so bad for the restaurant.”
Edward Boyd, owner of Olympic View Inn, formerly Red Ranch Inn, said his buildings didn’t have any damage he knows of.
“(Firefighters) had it surrounded completely and the wind worked in our favor,” he said.
“We had a really good restaurant next to us and now we don’t for the forseeable future. As far as their concern, they put their heart and soul into it and now it’s up in smoke.”
Across the street, the Sequim Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong smoke odor in the west side of the building, said Mike Flynn, bishop for the Happy Valley Road ward.
Flynn said church officials have hired someone to clean the air in the building this week and it shouldn’t interrupt church events or services.
Along with a bulk of Clallam County Fire District 3’s crews, Clallam County Fire District 2 and the City of Port Angeles staff and equipment assisted on scene.