Authorities Investigate Arson at Seattle Gay Club’s NYE Party
Police and fire officials are currently investigating a fire that broke out at a popular gay club in Seattle, soon after midnight New Year's Eve, the Seattle Times reports.
According to Seattle police, just after midnight Tuesday, someone in the gay club Neighbours, which contained about 750 club goers at the time, poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway and then set it on fire. An empty gasoline canister was found at the top of the stairway, which leads to the club's mezzanine area overlooking the dance floor.
A customer quickly put the fire out with an extinguisher, however, and someone else pulled the fire alarm, setting off the club's sprinkler system. The Seattle Times reports that everyone made it out of Neighbours, one of Seattle's biggest gay clubs, safely.
"This could potentially have been much worse," Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore told the newspaper. "You have an establishment full of patrons and an intentionally set fire. That's a very dangerous situation."
Moore added that the fire caused about $1,000 in damage to the building but an additional $6,000 in damage was caused by the sprinkler system.
As of Wednesday evening no one has been arrested for the incident and the motive for the fire is still not clear -- though some suspect the fire could have been motivated by hate.
"If there's any indication it's a hate crime, we'll pass it on to our bias unit," police spokeswoman Renee Witt told the Seattle Times. She added the arson and bomb squads are investigating the scene.
Seattle's new mayor Ed Murray, who is openly gay, said he was thankful no one was hurt but is worried that club was attacked.
"Right now, the most important thing is to find the individual or individuals responsible, and then determine the motive for this potentially very destructive action," he told the Seattle Times.
Shaun Kinttel, who runs Social Outreach Seattle and is a regular at Neighbours, told King5.com that the fire could have turned into a "disaster" if it wasn't put out right away and that the club's management will scour surveillance footage for a suspect.
"Other than hate and ignorance, I want to know why. Why violence? If you have a message you want us to hear you, see you, do it in a way that's more intelligent than that and don't hurt other people," Kinttel said.
Watch a video of King5.com's report below: