Seattle Police continue to investigate an arson at a popular gay nightclub. According to detectives, a supect or suspects doused a staircase at Neighbours in Capitol Hill with gasoline and lit it on fire.
"A minute more and you could've had disaster," said Shaun Kinttel.
Knittel runs Social Outreach Seattle and is a regular at Neighbours. He recorded video of the moment he and club managment discovered what they estimate to be a liter of gasoline at the top of the staircase.
"About 15 minutes after midnight we started smelling this gas everywhere," said Christopher D'Agostino.
Nearly 700 customers evacuated into a nearby alley, completely uninjured. Many left their bags and coats in the coat check room, and returned Wednesday to retrieve them, amazed that the fire didn't consume the building.
"It was huge," said Ashley Waschow. "It was not typical bonfire flames."
The fire ended the club's popular New Year's Eve show, where Aleksa Manila has performed as a drag queen for 10 years.
"Neighbours is one of the symbols of queer nightlife in Seattle," she said.
She and others call the arson an act of intimidation, one that fortunately ended without any injuries, but damaged a bar with a long history in the neighborhood.
"To put that much effort and thought into doing something like that, as heinous as that, because somebody could've died," she said.
Surveillance cameras line the area leading to the staircase, which is set in an area of the club with limited access. According to Knittel, management will scour the video 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."