Once again, my small town has been rocked to it’s core. I have spoken before about my town. Settled in the early 1870’s, Bothell started out as a logging town because it was located on a slough. The logs were floated down stream, plucked out, processed and sent to market. The town was incorporated in 1909. To date many historical buildings still dot our town, some dating from as early as 1886. Main Street itself, is full of history.
So when a developer came to town and wanted to remodel the historic Mercantile Building on Main Street, there was blowback from the community. Months went by and the developer finally agreed to keep the original facade of the building, while also developing upward to include apartments on top of shops. Construction started and I felt optomistic every time I drove by because it seemed as if the contractor was keeping their word to make sure that the history of this building did not dissappear.
I woke this morning to devastating news. The Mercantile Building, which was in the process of adding it’s final floor at 5 or 6, don’t know which, had caught fire during the night. At 3 am it quickly turned into a 3 alarm fire.
Firefighters did their best to keep the fire from spreading, to no avail. The fire was so hot that it melted the construction crane as well as buildings across the street.
Buildings across the street and blocks away caught fire as well from embers. Most downtown buildings flooded and have water damage. As of this writing, 17 hours later, there are still hot spots all over downtown. A tree caught fire just a little while ago. The fire at the Mercantile Building is still an active hot spot with firefighters on duty there.
Within 4 hours, with firefighters still activally engaged with the blaze, my community had already rallied. A Facebook page was created for people who wanted to assist in any way. Coffee and donuts were quickly delivered. The response was so great that the City actually had to formally request that people drop off donations to the operations center on the other side of town. Actually the response was so huge that by this afternoon the City said “No More!” I actually found that kind of funny.
Most downtown business closed for the day because early on the smoke was so thick that people were having trouble breathing. As the day progressed, the press swarmed our small town. Helicoptors were flying overhead and news trucks were all over downtown trying to get interviews.
A local business across the street from the Mercantile Building had a flooded basement and requested towels and a shop vac to get cleaned up. They also had some roof damage and needed to patch it before it started to rain. Within a couple of hours of the request, they were flooded with help. They were able to get the roof patched up, the basement cleaned up and were open for business by the afternoon. Amazing!
By 11 am local business had set up Fundraisers for the local businesses who had lost everything. Local salons were offering chairs for hairdressers that lost their’s in the salon that is a total loss. A local sign company offered to print up “We Are Open” signs for business that were closed today, but would be open tomorrow. One lady wanted to bake cookies for every company that showed up to help fight the fire.
That is us. That is Bothell. We are community. We are family.
During a press conference, our little town’s Chief of Police and Mayor made a point of constantly stating that Bothell will survive and will rebuild. They encouraged everyone to support our local businesses when they reopen tomorrow. I, for one, will be doing just that!