By Elizabeth Dinh, KOMO Communities
(Beacon Hill Blog news partners)
A fire at Dr. Jose Rizal Park on North Beacon Hill Saturday night did more than ruin a viewpoint—it has put some motorists in danger.
The area at Rizal Park is prone to landslides—and now that the plants have been destroyed in a fireworks-sparked blaze, the risk of a slide has re-emerged.
Volunteers have spent years beautifying this park, and Saturday night’s fire ruined some of their work. And if heavy rains sweep in before this charred land is reinforced, it could pose a threat to the many people who walk and jog there.
Nine years have passed since Craig Thompson first started putting a lot of time and effort into the park that’s a few minutes away from his home.
“And we’ve done quite a bit of good work,” he says.
Volunteers have planted an apple orchard and put in more vegetation—including thousands of trees.
“We’ve managed to put ivy control measures around about 1,000 trees. We’ve planted upward of 7,000 trees,” says Thompson. He has even worked with Seattle police on how to take back the park from drug lords.
Then, at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, fireworks touched off flames that raced across the dry land.
“I live about block and a half away from here, and we heard the bottle rockets go off,” Thompson says.
Below the beautiful Seattle skyline is now a charred patch of land that—with rain—could pose a danger to people who visit the popular park.
“This is a historically landslide-prone area,” says Thompson.
The devastation bothers David Choy, a visitor from Texas who’s been coming here for more than two decades.
“That’s a terrible shame,” he says. “I always come through here because this is such beautiful scenery. I brought my uncle and my aunt over here to look at the scenery.”
But Thompson isn’t mad about having to clean up and bring in more plants. He’s only looking forward.
“I look at it, and rather than becoming depressed or angry, I see what needs to be done,” he says.
He sees yet another opportunity to make this a better place. Volunteers already had plans to come out here on September 21 and 22 to clean up the park. Thompson says that with the added work needed to fix up the area where the fire was, it would be nice to have even more helpers come out.