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Tacoma, WA - May 18, 2008
JOE BARRENTINE The News Tribune Firefighters with the Tacoma Fire Department walk in front of the Firwood Roadhouse as it burns early this morning.
FIFE Firefighters battle fully involved tavern blaze in Fife
STACEY MULICK; The News Tribune Published: May 16th, 2008 06:21 AM
Flames destroyed the historic Fabulous Firwood Roadhouse, a popular Fife hangout that featured live music on the weekends, this morning. Tacoma firefighters spent several hours battling the flames from the outside of the building but could not save the 84-year institution at 8014 Valley Ave. E. The road was blocked off between 70th Avenue East and Freeman Road East.
"It appears the building is going to burn all the way to the ground," deputy Tacoma fire marshal Kevin O'Donnal said. "They have been fighting a defensive fire from the get go."
A Fife patrol officer on his way to work spotted smoke coming from the back of the building at 4:50 a.m. The officer was driving along Valley Avenue East when he stopped, Fife police Lt. Tom Thompson said. The officer went around back and discovered the flames. "He saw the whole side of the back of the building fully engulfed," Thompson said. The officer called in the fire at 4:53 a.m. The first firefighters arrived at 5 a.m. to find the tavern engulfed in flames.
"The roof collapsed very shortly after the first unit arrived," O'Donnal said. Firefighters called for more help and fought the flames defensively. The effort was complicated because there are no fire hydrants at the business or in the immediate area. Two water tenders from Riverside Fire and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue came to the scene to help provide water to fight the flames, O'Donnal said. In addition, firefighters were concerned about a nearby propane tank. Crews started protecting the tank with water, O'Donnal said. The tank has not been an issue. "They tried to save the building, but it's a complete loss," Thompson said.
Fife police, Tacoma fire investigators and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene to investigate how and why the fire started. "There is quite a loss here," Thompson said. "We got to get in there and take a look."
The owners reported they closed up the tavern at 11 p.m. Thursday, Thompson said. No one was believed to have been in the tavern when the Fife police officer discovered the fire. "It was just starting to get light out," Thompson said. "There were no cars in the parking lot."
The latest owners renamed it to Firwood Roadhouse. In the late 70's & early 80's it was just The Firwood Tavern "way out on East Valley Hwy". Now, the city has sprawled out to meet the tavern site. The owner, Kenny, lived in a little trailer just behind the Firwood.
The stage lighting consisted of 150w spotlights over the front of the stage. The lights had a floor switch box, & plugged into one outlet in the back.
Our group (Happy Daze Band) would come in & I would plug a paddle switch between the wall outlet. Then when we went to a lead I could make the lights quickly blink on & off. We had jacket & pant changes, so Kenny's change room was the "beer keg" storage room.
Being "in the valley" we could come back the next evening to play, & find an eighth-inch pile of dust on everything. Regardless, there were always crowds having a great time!
Brian Woolery, March 2011