Fire damages historic building

EVERETT – An effort to improve a historic Everett building’s safety apparently caused a fire Sunday afternoon that could prove costly for a museum storing artifacts there.

The fire broke out around 1 p.m. during work on the 40,000-square-foot-building at 2815 Baker Ave. that once included a stable and the Sound Casket Manufacturing Co.

No one was injured in the fire that started upstairs in the southeast corner of the building.

The building, which has two stories and a basement, houses offices, book and woodworking companies, furniture warehouse space and storage space for artifacts from the Museum of Snohomish County History, which recently closed its doors at 1913 Hewitt Avenue.

The museum artifacts were stored in the basement.

“It would be reasonable to guess there would be smoke and water damage beyond where the fire was,” said Everett Fire Marshal Glen Martinsen.

Kay Kisiel, who owns the building with her husband, Dennis, was grateful firefighters were able to control the blaze quickly.

Fire crews put the fire out in about 40 minutes, officials said.

“I don’t know what would have happened if they didn’t get here so fast,” she said. “We are more than thankful.”

What was unclear Sunday night was the extent of damage to the museum’s collection, including documents and photographs.

Water used to fight the flames on the second floor leaked into the basement.

“I’m just praying to dear God things didn’t get ruined, but a lot of water got into the building,” Kay Kisiel said.

Peter Harvey, president of the museum’s board of trustees, toured the 6,000 square feet of museum storage space by flashlight Sunday night. The conditions made it hard to get a full picture of the damage.

He estimates 20 percent to 30 percent of the items sustained water damage.

“It could be worse,” he said. “We could have had fire damage. We have to count our blessings where we can.”

The Kisiels bought the building about three years ago. Half the building is brick and opened in 1902; the other half, where the fire occurred, was added in the 1950s.

The Kisiels said they have been trying to make the building safer, taking suggestions from the fire department and city.

The goal Sunday was to remove an old booth where caskets had once been painted, said Mark Foster, a friend of the Kisiels who has been helping with building improvements.

Sparks from equipment used to cut through the booth’s screws struck paint on its siding and caught fire, he said.

“I wasn’t even concerned with sparks,” he said. “It was all metal. Why would it burn?”

“They have put in a lot of work,” Foster said. “It’s sad to put so much work and effort into it, to try to make it safer and something to be proud of, and have this happen.”

J.W. Murray, who deals in used, rare and out-of-print books, rents space in the building. His collection appeared not to be damaged.

He, too, was thankful firefighters were able to contain the fire before it spread too far.

“Books don’t go with fire and water too well,” he said.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or

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