A Federal Way awards shop and tattoo parlor were destroyed by a fire early Tuesday.
The fire shut down both directions of Pacific Highway South between Dash Point Road and South 288th Street for more than six hours.
The blaze at the strip mall in the 29200 block of Pacific Highway might have started in the basement, which likely housed a marijuana grow operation, according to South King Fire.
“The construction we see in the basement is consistent with what we see in marijuana grow operations,” South King Fire Assistant Chief Ed Plumlee said. “It's a basement area back there — pretty compartmentalized, and plywood on the ceiling and walls. Some of the exit points had been cordoned off.”
Police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said South King Fire reported the suspected marijuana grow to officers, and that investigators would get a search warrant for the building. Until then, she declined to say who was suspected of the grow operation, or which business it was below.
Owners of the awards shop showed up at the scene, but declined to talk about the fire.
The owner of the tattoo parlor noticed the fire at 6 a.m. and reported it just as flames started roaring, firefighters said. On his way out, he was able to break out a window of the Awards by Wilson shop and rescue a cat that was inside, firefighters said.
All morning long, neighbors stopped by to say how devastated they were at the loss of the shops.
“They’re like an institution here in Federal Way,” said longtime Federal Way resident Ed Barney. “You hate to see that happen to anybody.”
Investigators have not announced the cause of the fire.