Huge Fire On Lake Union

photo by M. Lowrimore

A fire at a north Lake Union research lab triggered a large response from the Seattle Fire Department and sent a plume of potentially dangerous smoke over Lake Union Saturday afternoon.

As firefighters arrived at Modumetal, they saw roughly 20 foot-tall flames and a large column of gray smoke. When they entered the warehouse-like structure to fight the fire, they discovered large vats of nickle cobalt that had spilled, creating a potentially toxic situation. The chemical spill was limited by a building containment system and did not enter the waters of Lake Union, but firefighters had walked through the acidic chemical on the floor of the building, requiring them to be decontaminated. Flames were seen coming from the back of the warehouse where the owner stored wood pallets.

The EPA and U.S. Coast Guard were notified in case any of the chemical entered the waters of Lake Union. The smoke and spilled chemicals presented and inhalation hazard so firefighters had to use special breathing apparatus, fire department spokesman Kyle Moore said.

The Modumetal website describes their product as “a revolutionary nanolaminated alloy that is stronger and lighter than steel and will replace conventional metals and composites in many applications.”

The fire was determined to be caused by an electrical arc to industrial plating equipment, causing an estimated $150,000 in damage.

No injuries were reported.

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