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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Fire in Bothell’s historic downtown stirs up questions and anxiety

George Ahearn and Beau Richards both work in downtown Bothell and say the fire there has left them with many questions.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil
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George Ahearn and Beau Richards both work in downtown Bothell and say the fire there has left them with many questions.

The employees of Bothell’s many small businesses watched the firefighting efforts Friday, while waiting for access to their buildings or for power to be turned back on.

Marcelle Allen: “We’re on Main Street in Bothell and people love this area and it’s really sad.”

Allen has been working in the old downtown for almost a year doing social media training and advertising. She says the fire is a blow to the historic district where people were already feeling the effects of redevelopment.

Allen: “With the new McMenamins and new buildings going up, a lot of construction, a lot of change, a lot of uncertainty but kind of hopefulness – I think there’s still the hopefulness, at the same time there’s a little bit of fear.”

What caused the fire in an apartment building under construction isn’t yet known. The city's fire chief says it could take weeks to find out.

The fire also demolished a local diner, the Kozy Corner Café. George Ahearn owns another building nearby and says he’ll miss that gathering place.  

Ahearn: “Really nice people, they were always kind to my daughter whenever we’d pop in.”

Ahearn says not knowing the cause of the fire makes him feel apprehensive. His other concern is the extent of the water damage on his karate studio.

Ahearn: “I’m just going to make sure my roof is secure before I put karate students and jiu-jitsu students in there.”

The fire will mean another hole in a neighborhood with a lot of construction going on. And there’s one other concern for the local waterfront. Officials with the Department of Ecology say they have stationed a boat on the Sammamish River and are watching for the effects of the foam used to suppress fires, which deprives fish of oxygen and affects water quality.

Year started with KUOW: 2005