“Black House” in downtown Olympia destroyed by fire on Saturday

There were no injuries, five occupants escape safely

This 31-minute video shows how Olympia Fire Department extinguished the fire at 511 7th Avenue SE on March 18, 2023.
Video by Danny Stusser


Five individuals known to have occupied a single-family residence at 511 7th Avenue SE escaped a “total loss” fire on Saturday afternoon.

By the time Olympia Fire Department crews arrived at about 4:40 p.m. the house was empty of its occupants, according to Interim Fire Chief Todd Carson.

The house, built in 1895 according to the Thurston County Assessor’s records, was made of such dense timbers that fire crews said it would take hours to burn through and was not possible to save.

The firefighters worked to contain the fire for the first three hours. At approximately 7:35 p.m. began a 31-minute assault that fully extinguished the flames and most of the hot spots in the house.  In the video accompanying this story, the city's ladder truck is shooting water at 1,000 gallons per minute through what had been the building's roof.  Another team of firefighters using a handheld hose sent 200 gallons per minute into the rear of the house. 

The residence was called a “black house” because its siding and trim are painted black.  The property is owned by Manium LLC, which is also listed in tax records as the owner approximately 20 other properties throughout Olympia.  Most of these are distinguished by a black-over-black paint job and overgrown shrubbery.

Some knew the house as the "Track House" -- the house by the railroad tracks.

Investigators will attempt to determine the cause of the fire, according to Carson, who said that the extensive damage to the building might not enable them to determine the actual cause.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story indicated that the house was built in 1985 instead of 1895. The story also referred to the house "and as a place to purchase drugs," a statement we could not substantiate with sources. We regret these errors.  


12 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • rubinken

    Odd. A Black House burned down on Puget St NE a few years ago. Coincidence?

    Monday, March 20, 2023 Report this

  • KatAshe

    I’d like to know more about the owner of this property and 20 others. Are the other properties used for drug use and dealing?

    Monday, March 20, 2023 Report this

  • AugieH

    If used for drug dealing, no loss.

    Monday, March 20, 2023 Report this

  • DHanig

    Looks like it was built in 1895.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • jimlazar

    The black houses are owned by a Shelton dentist, Duane Moore, through his "Manium LLC" real estate company.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • CaitlinR

    The Track House was a beloved community hub for decades, supporting Olympia's thriving art and music scene. Countless shows and community events were hosted there, and many people in Olympia and beyond have lived there and spent time there. You can learn a little about the Track House's history here: https://imposemagazine.com/features/track-house-olympia-wa

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • MaKane

    One of our legendary local punk houses now a memory

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • OlyLocalPCO

    I feel like this is karmic retribution for the smear campaign over disputed wood that Food Not Bombs had purchased and stored there for distribution to the houseless community.

    It shocks me that even with the new tenant protections passed by Olympia City Council, that Duane gets away with these deadly fire traps he’s making easily $30-40k/ month off of. 20 properties, and zero accountability for the slums and health hazard nightmare he’s profiting from? I knew a tenant of a different black house (also Duane’s) that had no means of locking her door and had to beg in mutual aid groups for someone to install a deadbolt on the broken door so she could leave the room she was renting. At some point slumlords like this need to be shut down.

    And who is paying for the loss of the displaced tenants? It’s not like low-income “punk” people carry renters insurance. And I hope Duane is not able to successfully file a claim.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • Qphillips

    Terrible news. Grateful that no one was injured but we have people who are now in need of housing at a time when affordable housing is hard to find. These are hard working people and the house was not a drug house.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2023 Report this

  • Chowdah

    “A place to purchase drugs” yikes. I would be embarrassed if i wrote this. Did you even try to substantiate these claims before you wrote them? Maybe you should take a breather from your hunt and peck journalism and learn a bit about the community that you’re currently doing a disservice to.

    Sunday, March 26, 2023 Report this

  • MotherNature

    To those of you that made the ignorant comments about drugs, SHAME ON YOU! My nephew was displaced by this fire. Not a drug user, and works with the homeless.

    Idiots and bigots are ruining this town as bad as the drugs.

    Sunday, March 26, 2023 Report this

  • lisa64

    Absolutely despicable and shameful, and embarrassing that the writer of this article and OWNER OF JOLT NEWS, Danny Stusser, initially wrote that this tragically burned-down house was a place to purchase drugs with absolutely no evidence to back this up. One wonders how many of his other articles are fraudulent.

    Especially shameful that in doing so, he successfully redirected empathy away from the people who suffered the tragic loss of their home. See comments by KatAshe and especially AugieH, who wrote, "If used for drug dealing, no loss."

    Danny, your reporting is a thinly veiled attempt to gain attention by instigating dangerous rumors. Methinks a slander lawsuit is in your future, Danny, if you continue to make such bald-faced lies in your "news." This isn't the first time you've written some clickbait article riddled with falsities to garner attention.

    Monday, May 8, 2023 Report this