The destruction after a Jan. 25 fire in Lynnwood at an apartment complex under construction. This image was included in an investigative report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

No foul play suspected in largest fire in Lynnwood’s history

LYNNWOOD — Plans have started to rebuild The Reserve senior apartments that burned Jan. 25 near Scriber Lake.

The city is working with the developer on permits, Fire Marshal Jerry Job said. A contractor is looking into whether the concrete slab and underground garage are salvageable.

Investigators recently closed the case on the fire, the largest in city history. There was too much damage to determine the cause, detective Brian Jorgensen said.

“You have five stories worth of debris that have collapsed to the ground,” he said.

Investigators found no reason to suspect foul play. The complex’s surveillance cameras didn’t show anybody at the site after hours.

Damage estimates varied, but the construction before the fire was worth about $22 million, according to the city. That doesn’t include demolition and recovery costs. The owner is a limited liability company with an address in Olympia. The insurance policy was worth about $37 million.

The 296-unit building had a wood frame and incomplete drywall. Construction was about 60 percent done, too early to add fire protection sprinklers. A city inspector had been there hours earlier and found no code violations.

Local investigators were joined by a team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The newspaper recently obtained a copy of ATF’s report through a public records request.

The fire is believed to have started near the southwest corner of the fourth floor, where two corridors intersected. In that area were heaters, fans, industrial power strips, electrical circuits and string lighting, all of which could not be ruled out as potential ignition sources.

Federal agents interviewed dozens of witnesses and tracked down at least 86 leads, records show. No welding had happened recently. There also was no evidence that natural gas, power tools or device chargers were factors. The same went for fuel canisters, cigarettes and lightning. Even the ashes were sifted through screens to look for clues.

The unfinished drywall was a factor in how quickly the fire spread. Once flames got to the fifth floor, they were “able to travel virtually unimpeded throughout the structure,” the ATF report said.

The Reserve wasn’t the only building damaged. Residents remain displaced from the nearby Lynnview apartments, where siding melted and windows exploded. Officials say it could be months before Lynnview reopens.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

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