UPDATE: 3-alarm fire that burned Burien Annex Tuesday morning was Arson

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Photo courtesy Public Information Officer David Nelson.

UPDATE: The 3-alarm fire that burned the Burien Annex Tuesday morning (Dec. 10) was intentionally set in or adjacent to an outside porta-potty, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Some 75 fire personnel from five area fire departments fought the blaze, having to cut into the double-layered roof structure to extinguish the flames.

The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Damage was estimated at $150,000-plus.

Police are offering a reward of up to $10,000, and are asking the public to call 206-263-2070 or 1-800-55-ARSON to report tips. Arson investigators are currently examining evidence and will be reviewing footage from outside surveillance cameras.

Home to the Burien Actors Theatre as well as the Hi-Liners and other non-profit organizations, the blaze appears to have mostly damaged the old gym/auditorium that serves as a theater.

The Burien Annex is a former elementary school that served as the Burien Community Center, housing the City’s Parks Department until it moved in 2010 to its current location at the former King County Library at 14700 6th Ave SW. The City currently leases space at the Annex to several non-profit agencies.

Most severely affected are local theater groups that stage their productions in the Annex auditorium and store costumes and props in adjacent rooms. The Burien Actors Theater is currently staging its holiday production, “Coney Island Christmas,” which was scheduled to run through Dec. 22. The youth theater group Hi-Liners also stages its productions at the Annex.

No word yet on whether these productions will find new homes or not.

Other agencies housed at the Annex include Para los Ninos, Burien Cooperative Preschool, Meals on Wheels, and Transform Burien, which operates a clothing bank and community kitchen that provides free meals to people in need on Wednesdays and Sundays. Although power to all Annex buildings was cut as a safety precaution, it was restored later in the day Tuesday after the electrical system was thoroughly inspected. Agencies were expected to operate as normal beginning Wednesday.

A separate incident Sunday caused some water damage in the Para los Ninos offices at the Annex. Water was seen leaking from a ceiling by volunteers from Transform Burien who reported it to City maintenance workers. A broken water line was found and repaired, preventing more serious flooding.

“Operations at the City of Burien Annex, SW 146th and 4th SW, have been suspended due to a fire early Tuesday,” the city said on its website. “Damage was contained to the gym area although power has been shut off to the entire facility, affecting several nonprofit agencies housed there.”

According to the city’s website:

This facility first served as the home of Chelsea Elementary School. It began a new life in the 1970s as the Highline Community Center and was managed by King County Parks. After the city of Burien incorporated, it was then known as the Burien Community Center. In 2010, recreation programs and the offices of the City’s Parks & Recreation Department were relocated to a new home in the former Burien Library. In 2008, the City of Burien completed plans to eventually build a new community recreation center on this site, and to retire and demolish this old building that has served the community for so many years. Now known simply as “The Annex”, the facility is being temporarily used by several nonprofit groups for a variety of services and programs.

UPDATE: Here are new photos (courtesy Toni Overmyer) showing views of the damage from inside:



Here are some photos courtesy Public Information Officer David Nelson:




BTB Publisher Scott Schaefer took these pics just before 8 a.m. (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):







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19 Responses to “UPDATE: 3-alarm fire that burned Burien Annex Tuesday morning was Arson”
  1. Crystal says:

    We were told that a porta potty was set on fire.

  2. Gabby Jacobsen says:

    Oh that’s so sad! And Hi-Liners have a show coming up in January.

    • Eric says:

      BAT has a show up right now. BAT is looking for a space and hopes to have “Coney Island Christmas” back on its feet by Saturday, if not Friday, if a space can be found.

  3. Very Sad! It brings tears to my eyes.

  4. Mindi says:

    I’m so sad about this. Please let us know if there is a way for the community to help.

  5. Jackie Edwards says:

    That is so sad, I have so many fond memories of being a part of the theater family there, this is terrible!

  6. Many memories for Our Sons Brandon and Ben. If there is anything we can do to help. Thoughts and Prayers for Kathleen, HiLiners staff and HiLiner Kids of ALL ages.

  7. Eric says:

    BAT will have a statement regarding its current show “Coney Island Christmas” once we can get into the space and have a chance to check on possible interim spaces.

  8. Dixie says:

    What’s wrong with people this is where we live. These are the things that make me believe in CANNING. A good whipping and a trip to jail in what some people need!!

  9. Bus Driver Terri says:

    So mad at the person or persons who set the Burien Theater on fire today.
    So many sad and heart broken children and adults. My grand-daughter has done so many performances there. It’s just a terrible thing to see. Shame on you whoever you are. I agree with Carrie Underwood…Mean People Need Jesus

  10. sallie tierney says:

    Should probably look at the taggers that have been vandalizing the skate park. Not much of a leap from one form of mindless destruction to another.

    • Eric says:

      Sallie, don’t jump the gun. We don’t know what happened. Was it someone just trying to keep warm? Was it a “prank” gone wrong? Was it a tagger? Was it something else? Don’t rush to condemn someone or group without knowing. I volunteer at BAT and this is huge loss, but until we know what happened we should simply be glad no one was hurt.

  11. Carolyn says:

    Just so very sad. I hope that another facility in Burien or close by will step up and provide a space for all the talented actors to perform their shows. Thoughts and prayers with the Hi-liners and all that are affected.

  12. Rocky says:

    It was the jugalows for sure just a bunch of punk ,wana be rapper kids that pain there faces with clown paint and bust up our town. They are up to no good. The cops need to go thru that skate park every hour till the dummy’s that do this kinda stuff figure out that if u want to burn stuff , do drugs, fight and bully kids burien and the skate park is not a place to do any of that stuff

    • Rocky says:

      Know one wants to hear the truth , but burien has a bad bunch of criminals running around and if we do nothing about it then this stuff will become more common

  13. Malcolm w. says:

    Consider using every ounce of energy towards relocation or rebuilding this unfortunate loss rather than concentrating on the who what or why of it! There lies the true power of community! Ask any victim of a natural disaster!

    • Seahurst Relic says:

      I agree Malcolm, but only to a certain extent. SOMEONE, must focus on the “who”…..otherwise the “who’s” will continue to destroy the community that we are building. Let’s face it, it’s much easier for them to destroy it then for us to rebuild it.
      Truly we are victims, BUT, this is not a “natural” disaster.

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