Plum Tree Plaza in Edmonds. (Photo courtesy of South County Fire/Twitter)
The 911 calls began coming in at 5:35 a.m. Saturday that the Plum Tree Plaza in Edmonds was on fire.
The fire quickly went to three alarms. In all, 14 businesses suffered some damage.
From the start, there was some concern that these businesses might be targeted. But firefighters will say only that the cause is under investigation.
It is easy to imagine what South County firefighters saw as they approached the Plum Tree Plaza along Highway 99 in Edmonds.
“When the first crew got here, there were flames rolling out of the windows,” said Leslie Hynes.
The South County Fire spokeswoman says those flames were coming out of the Indonesian Market in the center of the strip mall and spreading quickly.
“So, we quickly went to a second alarm, and then ended up at a third alarm,” Hynes said.
Indeed, fire crews from four neighboring communities ultimately joined the firefight.
“It was very early in the morning, you know,” Susan Galvez said. “Just wake up, and you see this huge blaze.”
Galvez and her son live in the motel behind the strip mall.
“When I saw it, it was pretty intense,” Adam Galvez said. “I mean, the flames were just really, really high in the sky. A lot of black smoke.”
“There wasn’t too much we could do except stand there and watch,” Susan Galvez said. “We were kind of afraid it was going to jump the fence.”
By early afternoon, investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had joined South County Fire in investigating the cause.
The fire destroyed the Indonesian Market. But the 13 other businesses were damaged, too, as the smoke traveled through the attic that adjoins them.
“Well, it’s been a struggle for us as a result of the pandemic, obviously,” said George Yu, best friend of the owner of the Taste Rice Noodle restaurant. “Business was just starting to pick up. And we get hit with this. I mean, it’s tough.”
Those involved in the businesses here say the fire is a terrible blow. And they, too, wondered if they were a target.
“I mean, most of the business owners are Asian right here in this plaza,” said Miah Young, owner of Taste Rice Noodle.
They say they have heard lots of rumors, no concrete facts, just yet.
But they say Taste Rice Noodle had just reopened three weeks ago. Now, they are waiting to hear what caused the fire that has put them out of work once again.
By Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News