Squatters arrested at rental home destroyed by fire in Kirkland, police investigating cause
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
July 16, 2010 · Updated 3:28 PM
A fire destroyed one home and damaged another in the South Rose Hill neighborhood Wednesday night. The 40-foot high flames sent a smoke plume high into the air that could be seen from Seattle and caused between $500,000-$750,000 worth of damage to the combined properties.
The Kirkland, Woodinville, Redmond and Bellevue Fire Departments sent 50 firefighters and 23 fire units to the blaze, which started in a one-story home in the 12800 block of N.E. 70th Place. That home, which is a rental property and had been unoccupied since January, along with an indoor swimming pool, were completely burned to the ground.
The fire jumped to trees dividing the first home from a neighboring house. The fire eventually spread to the neighboring home's roof where Carmen and Kurt Coralline, their two dogs and a cat were inside. The call was received by Kirkland Fire at 9:20 p.m. It took crews 45 minutes to put out the flames.
The married couple and dogs were able to escape the blaze on their own but their cat had to be rescued by firefighters. The fire was so hot it melted a plastic fence of a third home in the area. The family is now reportedly staying with neighbors.
"Firefighters helped protect the homeowners’ artwork and other treasured belongings from further damage by covering it with tarps and plastic or by moving some of it to a safer area," said Kirkland Fire Department spokesperson Robin Paster.
Firefighters contained the blaze to the second floor of the neighboring home.
"There is quite a bit of damage to the second floor and the roof (of the second house)," said Kirkland Fire Department investigator Jim Crowe. "There is not a lot of fire damage to the ground floor but there is a lot of water damage."
A crew of reserve firefighters stayed on the scene through the night. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"An estimate put the monetary loss at $250,000 for the first house and $250,000-$500,000 for the second house," said Paster, who added that the monetary loss for the contents of the second house have not been determined.
Squatters at the house
At the rental home where the fire started, there was an incident last weekend that is also being looked into further.
"At least two people, who were squatters, were arrested here Saturday night," said Crowe.
The Kirkland Police Department arrested three adults and one juvenile for trespass on Saturday. A second juvenile was also arrested later in connection to those events. The power to the house was disconnected and the power box removed after the trespassers were arrested.
KPD spokesman Rob Saloum said that the situation that led to the arrests on Saturday night was not equatable to the high profile situation with squatters a month ago in the Market neighborhood of Kirkland.
"They were not trying to obtain property rights or anything," said Saloum. "These people were homeless."
Paster confirmed that the house was a vacant rental, unoccupied since January. The owners were "deciding to repair or tear down the structure."
The KPD and the Kirkland Fire Department are still jointly investigating the cause of the fire.
"If it turns out to be suspicious or criminal we move forward from there," said Saloum.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.