Fire maims iconic Northwest Costume along Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue

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Tom and Mary Johnson look on as fire crews work to douse the flames at their beloved business. Photo courtesy of Studio 6 Ballroom

A horrific fire wreaked havoc on a beloved business late Saturday night along Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue.

At 11:23 p.m., the Tacoma Fire Department received word that a fire had started at a two-story commercial building at 2315 Sixth Ave., the home of Northwest Costume, a longtime provider of high-quality costumes, makeup, and supplies for special events throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Owners Mary and Tom Johnson watched firefighters work to contain the fire into the early morning hours of Sunday. Joe Meinecke, spokesman for the fire department, said fortunately there were no injuries or loss of life.

“We arrived at the two-story commercial building and there was some smoke showing,” Meinecke said. “We made entry into the building, and after a long fire fight we were able to extinguish it. It was a 2-alarm fire, which meant we brought in additional resources to help keep (the fire) under control.”

Meinecke said the fire originated in a first-floor room and raced up between the first and second floors before traveling up and out through the roof. Since the weekend, fire department investigators have been on the scene continuing to assess the cause of the fire. Meinecke said the cause is still unknown and is pending investigation.

“At this point, there doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious,” Meinecke said.

The property suffered fire, smoke, and water damage. Damages to the building and the contents, including business supplies and products, were estimated at $450,000 as of Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Johnsons told the Tacoma Weekly that since the weekend they had been inundated with phone calls about the incident. They’ve been working with the Fire Marshall and insurance providers around the clock, while also deciding on next steps to proceed with their business. They declined further comment at this time.

Mary Johnson started the business in her home back in 1982, as a means to provide Halloween costumes to her community. Over several decades, the business has developed into a full-service shop, including the provision of personalized ensembles for special events. The shop has supported events ranging from plays, musicals, fundraisers, auctions and weddings. The Johnsons opened their Sixth Avenue location in the late 1990s. The building includes a second-floor ballroom, made available for special events.

Natasha Thayer, owner of Studio 6 Ballroom on Sixth Avenue, said the Sixth Avenue business district is gracious for the Johnsons’ contributions to the community.

“They are amazing people who we owe so much to the Sixth Avenue district being the fun place it is now,” Thayer said. “They never ask for anything and only give.”

Thayer has stepped up to provide public communication regarding the fire incident. She said she will also spearhead fundraising efforts to help Northwest Costume get back to full steam. And she’s also not alone in supporting the Johnsons.

“Myself and a couple restaurants have been trying to entice them with some food as we all care about their well-being,” Thayer said.

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