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Bar that burned in April hit again as downtown White Center street sees 3rd fire this year

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 13, 2021

By Daisy Zavala Seattle Times

The owner of the Locker Room Tavern, Rick Rovegno, found out about the fire Monday the same way he did last time: a neighbor pounded on his door.

He made his way to the area around 5:30 a.m. and stood in front of what remained of his family’s business, which had been standing in the White Center core for 28 years.

“Been a rough past year and a half,” he said.

A fire broke out at the Locker Room Tavern in White Center around 5:30 a.m. Monday, according to fire officials. Another fire hit the tavern earlier this year, in April, but it was not as severe, said Shauna Sheppard, a public information officer with King County Fire District 2.

The flames were contained about 45 minutes after crews from multiple agencies arrived, she said. The road along the business strip remained closed off.

“We have no reason to believe it is arson at this time,” Sheppard said.

Black, charred wood covered the sidewalk in front of the building, and wires were visible from parts of the collapsed ceiling. The tavern, tucked between Bizzarro Italian Cafe and Huong Xua Vietnamese deli, was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out, and there were no injuries, Sheppard said.

The roof of Huong Xua Vietnamese deli was damaged while the fire was being put out, she said.

Rovegno, 59, moved to White Center 30 years ago from Vancouver, Washington. After his stepfather passed away, Rovegno’s mother took over. Rovegno then took over the business 25 years ago.

He hadn’t even finished rebuilding from the April fire, which left smoke and water damage to the bar, he said.

“It was bad, but the walls were still up,” Rovegno said.

Rovegno said he planned to rebuild the bar exactly where it’s always been.

“It’s sad a lot of businesses have burned in the area in the last couple of months,” Rovegno said.

The fire broke out on the same street where a July 5 fire burned, damaging the community’s core retail strip, including the neighborhood’s first LGBTQ+ bar and a tattoo parlor.

Monday’s fire was first classified as a two-alarm fire, but was soon upgraded to a three-alarm fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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