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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 14, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 33
SPD seeks person of interest in last week's fire at Neighbours
Section One
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SPD seeks person of interest in last week's fire at Neighbours

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On Friday, August 7, around 11:15 a.m. in broad daylight, a man seen in footage taken by Neighbours Nightclub security cameras walks into the alcove where the famed back alley entrance to Seattle's largest Gay dance club is, and nearly three minutes later walks back out. Smoke can then be seen coming out of the alcove and it becomes clear that a fire has been set.

Unlike the arson which occurred at Neighbours on New Year's Eve 2014, in which a man doused a stairwell that leads to the upstairs mezzanine with gasoline and lit it on fire during one of the busiest nights of the year, potentially wanting to kill nearly 800 people, this fire was started when nobody was in the building, the business was closed and during the day. And what is even more curious is that the man in the video knows he is being filmed, yet he does not cover his face or make an attempt to not be seen by cameras. His movements are almost cocky.

The Seattle Fire Department arrived about 10 minutes after the blaze began to find that the fire had already been extinguished by the nightclub's sprinkler system. Nobody was harmed and according to Steve Tracy, Neighbours general manager, only $300 worth of damage had been done because the man started the fire on an exterior door that has Plexiglas windows so the fire did not spread quickly and was easily put out by just one sprinkler. Tracy directed his team to fix the damaged door and replace the carpet and within an hour or two, there was no trace left that anything had ever happened - something important to Tracy as he says it is important for LGBTQ businesses, if they are attacked, to show resilience and to let their customers know it is safe to come back. Tracy hired extra security for the night and SPD made sure there were extra patrols around the nightclub Friday and Saturday night. By the looks of the more than 600 people that came by on each night of the weekend, customers weren't deterred in the least.

On Saturday, in cooperation with the nightclub, SPD released video footage of the man. Detectives are seeking the identity of the man, who they call a person of interest, in connection with the Neighbours arson. Police are asking anyone who recognizes the man, or who may have seen him near the club, to call detectives at (206) 684-8980.

One week has passed with no positive ID of the man as of print time for SGN Thursday night.

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