Fire guts event center in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Flames and smoke poured out of the Watson Signature Event Center in Lakewood early Monday morning.

General Manager James Watson could only watch as the fire ripped through the family-owned business.

“Just got an early morning call at midnight telling me that my building was on fire,” said Watson.

As the event center burned, the fire also threatened an attached apartment building.

KIRO 7 talked with a woman living there who reported the fire.

“We saw the smoke from our bedroom window ran outside and someone told us the building was on fire. I ran around while I was on the phone with 911 looking for flames because they kept asking me do I see the flames. There was no flames at first, but by the time the firefighters got there, there was plenty of flames,” said the tenant.

Because of combustible materials inside the building, fire crews had to fight the fire from a defensive position and protect the apartments where tenants had to evacuate.

Pierce Transit provided a bus to temporarily shelter those people.

The fire burned for hours – gutting the event center.

“Limited amounts of it still standing – but for the most part, it’s a total loss,” said Watson. “Right now, just numb – we worked really hard to bring a beautiful building and luxury space to this area.”

Watson says his family started their business in 2020, hosting weddings, banquets, conferences and other events.

He says they were getting ready for a big graduation party next week.

“Our heart right now is going out to those that were supposed to be utilizing this space in the near future and they’re not gonna be able to do so right now,” said Watson.

And for those who evacuated the apartments – their future is also uncertain.

“Now we are told the building is red-tagged and we’re not allowed to go back until the building is inspected,” said the tenant.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Watson said he hopes to rebuild the business.

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