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Fireworks not believed to have caused White Center commercial fire

A fire engine responding to a nearby aid call was flagged down by a bystander. Officials do not believe fireworks played a role.

WHITE CENTER, Wash. — Flames spread to several buildings early Monday morning in a White Center strip mall near 16th Avenue SW and Roxbury Avenue.

Crews across multiple agencies responded after the two-alarm fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. 

According to officials, the Seattle Fire Department was first on the scene after a bystander flagged down a crew responding to an aid call nearby.

Firefighters said there were no injuries reported from the scene. 

The cause remains under investigation, though right now, investigators do not believe fireworks played a role.

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Sharon Lei was preparing for the grand opening of her new boba tea business before the building was gutted in the fire. She came back Monday to survey the damage as contractors put plywood over the windows, and sunlight shone through a hole in the ceiling.

"So I just graduated college, and I was like, 'What should I do? Pursue my dream!' Let's sell my car; let's put everything I ever saved into this," she said.

Now, Lei plans to rebuild and looks forward to serving customers someday soon.

"The more I talk about, like, the more I guess more and more real and more emotional [it] is like becoming," said Lei. "And so, I just have to figure out a plan. All I'm thinking about like, it's OK, this is a barrier. It's totally fine."

King County Executive Dow Constantine stopped by the scene Monday and said his office will work to identify grants and assistance for the impacting business owners.

"You know, the fact that these businesses just reopened after more than a year of COVID," said Constantine. "They've been struggling all this time to hang on, and now to be hit with this fire just as we're reopening is particularly tragic."

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