Arson ruling stuns Greenwood community
Last Friday's fire that destroyed four Greenwood businesses has been ruled an arson.
Seattle Times staff reporter
People in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood may have to dig deep to forgive an arsonist who torched The Green Bean Coffee House and three other restaurants last week, but the Rev. Randy Rowland says forgiveness is necessary for the local community to move on.
Rowland, the pastor of Sanctuary Church, which operated the nonprofit coffee shop at 210 N. 85th St., learned Thursday that Seattle fire investigators have determined that the early-morning blaze on Oct. 23 was set deliberately.
"Obviously, we're shocked and saddened the damage was created intentionally," Rowland said Thursday evening. "At this point, we don't know who; we don't know the motive; we don't even know how [the fire was started] yet."
The fire began inside The Green Bean Coffee House, according to Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick.
The coffee shop and three family-run businesses — Szechuan Bistro, C.C. Teriyaki and Pho Tic Tac — were housed in the historic Eleanor Roosevelt Building near the corner of North 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue North. All four businesses were destroyed.
The fire caused an estimated $2 million in damage, Fitzpatrick said.
Fire officials have now turned the arson investigation over to Seattle police, she said.
Two adjacent buildings — The Taproot Theatre and a building complex with second-floor apartments — sustained smoke and water damage.
Though The Green Bean Coffee House was insured, Rowland said, he didn't know whether his neighbors also had insurance.
The families who ran those restaurants "didn't even have burglar alarms" and depended on those businesses for their livelihood, he said.
Neither the church nor the coffee shop has ever received any kind of threat, Rowland said.
In the past month, Seattle fire crews have responded to several small arsons, primarily in the University District, but there is no indication the Greenwood fire is related.
Greenwood is "a significant, emerging community," and Rowland doesn't want to see residents lose the momentum they've built to create a unified, vibrant neighborhood.
"Part of our job is to coalesce the community in love and pull together, even digging deep and forgiving the inexcusable," he said. "We need to mourn the losses of these things, forgive and learn to walk ahead."
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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