A large fire ripped through a portion of White Center’s business district late into the night on July 4 into the early morning hours of July 5, burning several commercial buildings. Among those impacted was the popular LGBTQIA+ venue Lumber Yard Bar, dive bar Dottie’s Double Wide, a still-in-the-works boba tea and bingsoo shop, and Mexican specialty grocer La Tipica Oaxaqueña.
The blaze started around 1:40 a.m. near the corner of 16th Ave SW and Roxbury Street, one of the busiest sections in the neighborhood, and it was contained by the morning. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but Seattle Fire Department public information officer Shauna Sheppard tells Eater Seattle the damage to the buildings was “significant.”
After initially classifying the fire as an accident, the King’s County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the case as an arson. Shortly after the reclassification, the Lumber Yard Bar posted a July 9 message on its Facebook page that said “this most likely is also a hate crime” and asked those with any knowledge of the incident to assist authorities in the investigation.
Even before the potential arson case developed, the community rallied to help some of the businesses pick up the pieces. White Center Pride set up a GoFundMe campaign page for the Lumber Yard — White Center’s first gay bar, which opened in early 2018 — and has already reached its $100,000 goal for recovery efforts. In addition, nearby Southgate Roller Rink announced it will donate 100 percent of proceeds on Wednesday, July 7 to the venue.
“The Lumber Yard was the heart of the gay community in White Center,” says Matt Maring, White Center Pride committee co-president. “It was a place where everyone including the LGBTQIA+ and straight community gathered. After surviving the pandemic, the businesses in White Center were just returning to normal so it’s a huge blow to the developing neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, the family-owned La Tipica Oaxaqueña also has a fire damage recovery fund set up on GoFundMe, as does Dottie’s Double Wide (recently purchased by former bartender Sole Salazar) and a boba and bingsoo shop called Nuggi that had been under construction when the fire struck. The damage to Nuggi looked especially significant and has a crowdfunding goal of $40,000 for repairs. “The shop is a complete loss,” reads a note on the page. “And it is heartbreaking to see everything disappear into ash and rubble.”
UPDATED, July 9, 2021, 3:50 p.m.: This article was updated with information from the King County Sheriff’s Office that the fire has been reclassified as arson.
- Fire in White Center Burns Through Neighborhood’s First LGBTQ+ Bar and Damages Other Businesses [Seattle Times]
- The Lumber Yard Bar Fire Relief Fund [GoFundMe]
- La Tipica Oaxaqueña Fire Damage Recovery Fund [GoFundMe]
- Help Us Rebuild Our Boba Cafe That Burned Down [GoFundMe]
- Fire Damage to Dottie’s Double-Wide [GoFundMe]