Fire at Seattle gallery set by man sleeping in alley trying to stay warm

The fire damaged more than one hundred pieces of artwork, including paintings by Picasso and Rembrandt.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
On Friday, a Seattle art gallery was set ablaze after a homeless man lit a fire in the alley trying to stay warm, according to authorities.

The fire damaged more than one hundred pieces of artwork, including paintings by Picasso and Rembrandt.

Davidson Gallery, which is located in Seattle's Pioneer Square, is home to more than 18,000 art pieces of art collected over 50 years. The owner, Sam Davidson, called it an "incredible loss."

"It's just hard even to assess it," he said. "The loss for the artists, the loss for the collectors. Pieces that we took in good faith are now toast."

The Seattle Fire Department said that the fire was likely started by when a man created a blaze in the alley behind the gallery trying to keep warm. The fire was quickly contained, authorities said, but not until after it caused extensive damage to the gallery, according to local news KIRO 7.

"Since 90 percent is works on paper, it's very difficult to know what survived," said Davidson, who explained that the gallery was in a vulnerable position as art pieces had been laid out for the gallery's upcoming move to a new location.

Pioneer Square sits at the epicenter of Seattle's notorious homeless crisis, where vagrants openly abuse drugs and criminals run amok.

"We had lots of inventory laid out, the drawers open, it laid on the floor, so we could transport them to the new location. So it invited the maximum amount of smoke damage," Davidson explained.

As a result of assessing the extent of the fire's destruction, the gallery's initial opening date of February in their new location could be delayed.

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