A fireball engulfed several trees and tents along I-5 in downtown Seattle on Friday morning inside a well-known homeless encampment.
The property is a Washington State Department of Transportation right of way, and witnesses say they heard propane tanks exploding and saw “a bunch of black smoke.”
Fire crews responded immediately to extinguish the flames. Authorities say one man suffered injuries from the fire and checked himself into Harborview Medical Center.
“We need to get these people off the streets,” one witness tells me.
A hospital spokesperson says the victim is notorious graffiti vandal Casey Cain, also known as EAGR. His tag was found on a sink left standing amid the wreckage.
The 36-year-old was out on bail for vandalism related charges.
The Seattle Police Department arson bomb squad is investigating the circumstances of the fire.
“I was asleep, I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything,” says one woman who was at the scene.
There are two entrances to the encampment, a broken fence near Harborview at the corner of 7th Avenue and James Street, or an opening off of Yessler Way.
Dozens of propane tanks litter the ground of the encampment, and scavengers are already picking through the debris.
One man shows me a handful of wires, “from all the generators they were running in here,” and tells me “they had wires, cameras, all kinds of sh*t.”
There are more than 20 tents and structures still remaining on the site.
No comment has been released from Governor Jay Inslee or Mayor Bruce Harrell. A WSDOT spokesperson referred me back to Seattle Police.
Another massive fire broke out earlier this year in this same encampment. Outreach workers have been here numerous times, but it remains unclear when WSDOT plans to move in and shut it down for good.
Multiple sources tell me this past Friday’s inferno in a problematic homeless encampment along I-5 in downtown #Seattle was related to a DRUG TURF WAR. Apparently, two fellas living in the camp were selling drugs out of tents. They got into a beef and then one of them retaliated by throwing an “accelerant,” which set off the propane tanks. Notorious graffiti vandal Casey Cain, who also goes by EAGR, was badly injured in the fire. Unclear if he was directly involved in this dispute. Seattle Police Dept Arson Bomb Squad investigating.