December 26, 2013 in Region

Seattle fire burns site of 1983 mass killing

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – A Christmas Eve fire in Seattle’s international district has raised some old ghosts.

The building that erupted in flames Tuesday was the site of Washington’s deadliest mass killing: the 1983 Wah Mee massacre.

The large, out-of-control fire began at about 4 p.m. in the three-story building, forcing more than 20 people living nearby to evacuate, fire officials said. The top two floors have been vacant, but the bottom floor houses businesses whose staff and customers were evacuated.

Though the fire was unrelated to the 104-year-old structure’s history, locals found the coincidence creepy, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

“That building’s haunted,” said Joaquin Uy, a social-services advocate who spends a lot of time in the Chinatown International District.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 1983, three men entered the illegal Wah Mee gambling club in the building’s basement and hogtied, robbed and shot 14 patrons. Thirteen of them died. One survived and was able to identify the assailants.

The fire was declared under control at 10:23 p.m. Tuesday, though firefighters continued to battle it into the morning, KING-TV reported.

The fire’s cause is still under investigation.

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