By Aaron Kunkler
BOTHELL — Gov. Jay Inslee offered words of reassurance Wednesday to merchants affected by the July 22 fire that destroyed a dozen businesses and damaged many more in the city’s historic downtown.
Starting at City Hall, Inslee walked downtown to survey the damage before meeting with more than two dozen business owners at a cafe.
“We know that one way or another you guys are going to get back on your feet,” he said.
The state Department of Commerce will be evaluating whether the fire damage meets thresholds triggering state aid. The fire destroyed two large buildings.
Agency officials were not immediately available to explain those requirements and Inslee was short on specifics.
“I can’t give you any answers right now,” he said.
He thanked emergency responders for their service, crediting the lack of injuries from the fire to their work.
Bothell fire officials said they don’t have a firm timeline for when business owners will be able to return to the buildings to search for salvageable belongings.
The 2:45 a.m. blaze began in what is known as the Mercantile Building on Main Street and 102nd Avenue NE.
The building was being renovated, and exposed lumber provided fuel for the fire to quickly expand before it crossed the road to the west. Flames ignited the old Bothell Mall, which housed all the destroyed businesses.
A nearby bank and board game cafe had heat damage. Other businesses to the west of the mall were damaged by water and flame retardant as firefighters doused the flames.
The Mercantile Building is owned by a limited-liability company with a Seattle address. Its value was appraised this year at $4.31 million. A partial appraisal of the Kozy Corner Cafe in the Bothell Mall was listed at $1.75 million.
The national response team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was brought in to help investigate the fire.
City officials have not yet released information about the fire’s cause.
The Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce and the Northshore Rotary Club established a recovery fund to help business owners affected by the blaze. After a July 28 block party, they reported raising more than $60,000. An additional $3,000 was raised by Beardslee Public House and Wildwood Spirits. The city has set up a business assistance recovery team at the Fire Marshal’s Office and City Hall.