Meet The Hero Soldier Who Saved Hundreds From A Fire At A Seattle Gay Nightclub

"There’s no telling how many people could have died.”

We reported on the fire that threatened to blaze through Neighbours, a Seattle gay nightclub, on New Year’s Eve. But now two heroes have emerged from the tragedy, and their bravery and skill saved the lives of the 750 people in the club from an arsonist’s murderous plot.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Bostick was in the club shortly after midnight when he noticed the flames: “It was like the Carrie movie,” he told KTVU. “You see just fire everywhere. And that’s all you can see and for a second, that’s all you’re focused on.”

Instinctively, Bostick rushed to grab a fire extinguisher from behind the bar, and then he and Mike Casey, a friend in the Air Force, doused the flames until the sprinkler system kicked in.

neighbours Seattle Gay Nightclub

“If that fire did what the arsonist intended, there’s no telling how many people could have died,” said Bostick. “If we hadn’t reacted to it, it would have taken too long for someone to react, and that fire would have become unmanageable in another 30 seconds.” Police haven’t arrested any suspects in the blaze, set in a stairwell leading to the second floor, but are searching surveillance tapes for clues.

Bostick, who tracks terrorists for the Army, says the incident has the earmarks of a terrorist act: “This was a planned attack on a large quantity of people in order to affect an entire community—to me, that’s terrorism.” He believes the arsonist walked up the stairs to the second floor with the can, then poured out gasoline as he walked down again.

It’s a credit to Bostick and Casey’s the fast thinking and cool heads that hundreds of partygoers are safe and sound tonight. We don’t know if either men is gay, but if the ban on gays in the military was still in effect, it’s almost definite neither would have set foot in a gay bar—regardless of their sexual orientation.

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell actually saved those people’s lives. Maybe we can bring that up to Republicans the next time they moan about unit cohesion.

h/t: the Gaily Grind

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery