Fire destroys Masins Furniture store and other businesses in Old Bellevue on December 17, 2001.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 12/18/2001
  • Essay 3654
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On December 17, 2001, a three-alarm fire destroys a three-story commercial building housing Masins Furniture and other businesses in the 10200 block of Main Street in Old Bellevue. No one is injured, but the building, built by the Vander Hoek Corporation in 1977 to revitalize Bellevue’s Main Street, lies in ruins.

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.

Old Standards

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.


“Three-alarm Eastside Blaze Destroys Furniture Store, Offices” Seattle Post-Intelligencer December 18, 2001, p.1; “Three-story Building, Businesses in Bellevue Burn” The Seattle Times December 18, 2001, p.1; “Inferno hits Old Bellevue: Masins Furniture, 5 Other Businesses Destroyed; Blaze Among City's Worst” Eastside Journal December 18, 2001, p. 1.

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