Up in Smoke
The fire was first noticed at 5 a.m., when newspaper deliveryman Doug Lombard and 7-11 manager James Tobin heard the sound of bursting glass across the street. Looking in that direction, they could see flames licking about the second floor. Both grabbed their phones and dialed 911.
Bellevue firefighters arrived almost immediately with their sole ladder truck, but the blaze was out of control. Ladder trucks were requested from nearby cities, Within 15 minutes the Kirkland truck arrived, and the Redmond truck followed 20 minutes later. Nearly 60 firefighters from all of Bellevue’s nine fire stations helped fight the blaze throughout the day.
Heat from the fire was so intense that it shattered windows in the Courtyard Off Main apartments behind Masins. Small gaps between Masins and the other buildings saved adjacent businesses. Soot and smoke covered stores along Main Street, and business owners fought to keep their merchandise safe and clean.
The building had passed a fire inspection the week before, but it had no sprinklers or fire alarm because it had been built to 1977 standards. The Vander Hoek Corporation had constructed the building to revitalize the small strip of old frame structures on Main Street. At the time preservationists decried its then-modern design.
Masins, a family-owned business since 1927, opened in the building in 1990. Besides Masins, the building also housed Tracy Gail Custom Dresses and Tailoring, Salon on Main, Pendleton Trust, Optimum Search Northwest, and Network Computing Architects Inc.
This was the second disaster to hit Masins within a year. On February 28, 2001, an earthquake caused significant damage at the furniture store’s Pioneer Square location. At the time of the fire, the downtown store was still undergoing extensive remodeling.