Seattle has such a reputation as a rainy city, one wouldn’t expect that a patch of ground could spontaneously catch fire, but it’s been a dry couple of weeks. It actually rained a bit this past weekend, and seems to be a little more damp today too, but there’s still so much dry vegetation around it feels more like the arid summer weather of Montana. We really did stamp out a little patch of smoldering landscaping bark last week, but I’m not sure what the ignition source was. There were no tell-tale cigarette butts, just a little patch of blackened earth. Spontaneous combustion of dry vegetation is a real thing, though, so maybe it can happen on a much smaller flowerbed scale too?
Seattle has burned down once before, during the ol’ “Great Fire“, which historians indicate actually wasn’t that great, unless you were in the construction business in the weeks and months following the destruction. That particular blaze was apparently caused by a pot of hot glue boiling over… in a woodshop covered in sawdust and turpentine… in a wooden structure, surrounded by other wooden structures. Other contributing factors: alcohol fueling the blaze (is that really a thing? Can liquor really liven a fire?), and a rickety civil infrastructure that didn’t have a great water supply, or super well-coordinated fire brigade. All part of the growing pains of a city, I suppose, and disasters like this are why we have building codes. The effects of the fire ring though even to today, where the smell of the alleys of downtown Seattle indicates that a troupe of dedicated public urinators are still maintaining their vigil, making sure that the city’s less visited corners, doorways, and clusters of dumpsters aren’t on fire.