Fire guts building on San Juan Island waterfront

FRIDAY HARBOR — A fire early Saturday gutted a building that houses a well-known restaurant and tourism businesses on San Juan Island’s picturesque waterfront in Friday Harbor.

Fire crews responded at about 2:40 a.m. Saturday, with additional firefighters ferried in from Anacortes and from Orcas and Lopez islands, KOMO-TV reported. The building near the state ferry landing houses Downriggers Restaurant and several other businesses, including Friday Harbor Marine, Friday Harbor Yachts, San Juan Safaris and San Juan Excursions.

“There were flames at least 20 or 30 feet high coming out of the building at one point,” said Carolyn Hudson, spokeswoman for San Juan Island Fire &Rescue.

The building appears to be a total loss — a big hit on the local economy, especially because the restaurant employs about 50 people, Hudson said.

Firefighters planned to work all day to make sure the fire doesn’t spread.

There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the fire is unknown, Hudson said.

Officials said the Port of Friday Harbor will try to help the businesses relocate. San Juan Excursions’ whale watch boat, the Odyssey, has been moved to a different slip.

Port Director Marilyn O’Connor said the Port of Friday Harbor also is evacuating Spring Street Pier, one of four piers there, so that booms can be placed to minimize any potential runoff from the firefighting efforts.

While firefighters continue to fight the blaze, boaters staying in the port will need to take the stairs above the port offices to access the town of Friday Harbor.

State ferry sailings were also expected to be delayed.

On the Net

For more information about the blaze, go to www.sanjuanislander.com/island-newshome/more/fire

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