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

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Photo courtesy Public Information Officer David Nelson [2].

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 [3] as well as the Hi-Liners [4] 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 [5]. “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 [6]:

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 [7]) showing views of the damage from inside:

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TOAnnexFire-3 [9]

Here are some photos courtesy Public Information Officer David Nelson [2]:

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

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