Seattle Betsuin Arson Restoration & Building Fund


Update February 27, 2024


The remediation team has initiated the cleanup process, removing carpets, inventorying content losses, and establishing ozone treatment rooms to remove smoke odor from permeable items. The garage cleanup began with identifying salvageable items, discarding charred debris, and beginning the asbestos mitigation process. While many objects are damaged beyond repair, the Arson Restoration Project Committee (ARPC) members continue to inventory and identify any items that can be saved. To date, more than 24,000 pounds of contents have been discarded.

Wakabayashi representatives arrived to assist Betsuin volunteers in dismantling and packing the Onaijin and Hishidoro lantern in the Hondo. All the items were loaded into a container and shipped to Japan for repair. The Onaijin is expected to be returned next year due to a backlog of work stemming from the earthquake damage to temples in Northern Japan, which occurred on January 1, 2024. Thank you to all the Betsuin volunteers and the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Women’s Association (SBBWA) for preparing welcome bags and providing meals for the Wakabayashi representatives and temple volunteers.

The cleaning and sorting of the kitchen, dining hall, and lower classrooms is expected to be completed soon. However, the smoke damage assessment continues. Additional restoration efforts are needed, as more damage is revealed with each layer of flooring and walls tested.

Meanwhile, the Archives committee continues to work on salvaging temple documents/pictures. As of last week, approximately 550 hours have been spent on preservation efforts. Thank you to the countless volunteers who have donated their time.

We extend our gratitude to all who have shown support, patience, and generosity. Your contributions, whether in time, resources, or kind words, have significantly impacted the Seattle Betsuin’s journey toward renewal.

Update February 10, 2024

It has been over a month since the unfortunate arson incident, and we wish to convey our deepest gratitude to those who have shown remarkable patience and understanding during the temple’s closure. While the recent fire serves as a poignant reminder of impermanence, it has also illuminated the profound interconnectedness and generosity within our community, both near and far.

We are immensely thankful to all the temple organizations, community members, and volunteers who have generously offered their support and devoted their time and energy to assist us in our recovery efforts. A special thank you to our sister temples, White River and Tacoma, for warmly accommodating us and allowing us to hold special services and funerals at their temples.

Efforts for fire, smoke, and water damage remediation are currently underway. Once this initial phase concludes, we will be better equipped to assess and establish a roadmap for necessary repairs.

Our Arson Restoration Project Committee (ARPC) and dedicated volunteers have been actively evaluating the temple’s condition and formulating strategies for our path forward. We humbly ask for your continued patience and support as we rebuild. Your unwavering solidarity has been invaluable as we navigate this next chapter together. 

Update January 11, 2024

One week has passed since the arson and the second fire. As the initial shock from the fire and its aftermath gradually diminishes within the Arson Restoration Project Committee (ARPC), we acknowledge the challenge of envisioning the current state of the temple. Please be assured that the ARPC is diligently working towards restoring the Seattle Betsuin.

The temple remains closed and off-limits to everyone. However, the temple is still operating remotely and is available by email at Meanwhile, our dedicated professional clean-up crew is actively involved in efforts to restore both accessibility and safety. Given the restricted access, a comprehensive assessment of the damage is yet to be completed.

We deeply appreciate the generous Dana (giving) received during this challenging time. The overwhelming support we have garnered for the restoration project is truly humbling, and the encouragement from the community plays a pivotal role in rebuilding the temple.

As transparency is paramount to us, we are committed to keeping you informed. Updates will be provided as we gather more information regarding the temple’s status.

Update January 2, 2024

The Seattle Betsuin is grateful for the sentiments and well wishes that have been posted, emailed, and verbalized through calls/texts. It is comforting to know that so many people care about the Betsuin community. Please know that we deeply appreciate each of you, and that your compassion means a great deal to the temple.

The Seattle Betsuin experienced a second fire today, as smoldering material reignited and caused further damage to the temple. The arsonist chose an archival storage area to start the fire. Thousands of records dating from 1901 were stored in that area.

If you have attended the annual Seattle Bon Odori event held at the temple, you will understand the rich history that is brought to life during this occasion. Unfortunately, many of the items that are utilized to bring the Bon Odori experience together shared the same space in the archival area.

We appreciate any and all donations towards rebuilding our temple. If you are unable to donate at this time, we understand and would appreciate if you shared this with others.

Thank you for your kindness as we navigate the next chapter of our history.

January 1, 2024

At 10:00 pm on December 31, 2023, an intruder broke into the temple and sought refuge in the basement. Shortly after, the individual committed arson, resulting in considerable fire and water damage to the basement area. The smoke and water damage extended throughout the entire temple, prompting its closure to all. Efforts are underway to assess the costs of repairing the damage caused. Fortunately, no one was injured. The Hondo (main hall) and Nokotsudo (columbarium) managed to be unscathed from the fire; however, both have not yet been assessed and we fear they are heavily damaged by smoke and moisture. 

In light of this unfortunate situation, we see an opportunity for renewal, rebuilding, and reaffirming our mission to share the message of the Buddha. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the community for the outpouring of support. As we navigate our restoration journey, you may stay connected with us by visiting this page for updates. For those who would like to make a donation to our Arson Restoration & Building Fund, please visit this link.

Contributions can also be made via check – please make checks payable to “SEATTLE BUDDHIST CHURCH” and include “Arson Restoration & Building Fund” in the memo line.

Your kindness and concern are deeply appreciated, and we invite you to share in the successes fueled by your generosity. Thank you for contributing to a collective effort that transcends bricks and mortar.

Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple – 1427 S. Main Street, Seattle, WA 98144