Smoke comes up from the Waterfront Place Apartments complex that caught fire along West Marine View Drive on July 16, 2020, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Smoke comes up from the Waterfront Place Apartments complex that caught fire along West Marine View Drive on July 16, 2020, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Insurance company sues contractor over four-alarm waterfront fire in 2020

The legal complaint alleges faulty construction caused the fire that burned a 266-unit waterfront apartment building to the ground.

EVERETT — An overheated drill may have sparked a four-alarm inferno that leveled an apartment building being built on Everett’s waterfront three years ago and caused an estimated $25 million in damages.

The allegation about what touched off the July 16, 2020 fire that destroyed the four-story Waterfront Place Apartments, 1300 West Marine View Drive, is included in a recent lawsuit by the Port of Everett’s insurance company. Flames also damaged surrounding buildings, threatened homes on a nearby hillside and sparked fires hundreds of feet away. A plume of smoke was visible from miles around. Dozens of firefighters responded from all over Snohomish County, sending at least 53 vehicles engines, ladder trucks, ambulances, and so on — to combat the flames.

Authorities never determined an official cause of the fire.

The two-building 266-unit apartment complex had been under construction for almost a year when the fire erupted, sending a shower of ash and hot embers up into the Northwest neighborhood. Houses on Rucker and Grand Avenue caught fire. One of the apartment buildings was reduced to rubble.

Nearly three years later, Lexington Insurance filed a property damage complaint alleging Atlas Plumbing Contractors of Seattle is liable for the fire.

The 12-page complaint filed in Snohomish County Superior Court alleges the contractors failed to install a fire protection system at the complex prior to erecting flammable wooden framing, breaking National Fire Protection Association guidelines.

The complaint also alleges construction workers used incorrect building tools and techniques.

“It was reasonably foreseeable that the Defendant’s improper use of a concrete drill on a wooden application, combined with the Defendant’s failure to adequately wet the cored holes, or to supervise such wetting, would result in a fire, and that the fire would spread to nearby property,” the complaint reads.

The Herald was unable to reach an Atlas representative Wednesday for comment.

Port public affairs manager Catherine Soper told The Daily Herald that the Port of Everett is not involved in the lawsuit.

“We deliberately made a choice not to sue, so this is something the insurance companies are duking out,” Soper said, adding that lawsuits of this nature are standard practice any time a fire causes property damage.

The Port of Everett has already received more than $863,900 in insurance payouts from Lexington Insurance, the complaint says, and there are more payouts on the way.

In the lawsuit, the insurance company is arguing Atlas Plumbing Contractors should pay compensatory damages of at least $1.5 million.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen.

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