January 4, 1995 was one of the deadliest days in Seattle firefighter history. Four men were killed as they battled the 5 alarm fire at the Pang warehouse in the city's International District.
Now, nearly 18 years later, some are being forced to relive it.
“Four good men are dead because of one person's greed,” says retired Seattle Police Detective Stephen O’Leary.
O'Leary led the investigation that brought the conviction of Martin Pang, son of the warehouse owners. Shortly after the fire, Pang fled to Brazil, saying he was the focus of a witch hunt.
Eventually, he confessed to setting the fire.
“Remember, just prior to the fire, Pang called the insurance agent for the building and told them the building was going to burn. I can't imagine anyone else setting fire to that building, and it was done for the sole purpose of collecting insurance,” said O’Leary.
But now Pang has hired a new lawyer who claims "secret documents" show investigators and prosecutors believed Pang was in California at the time of the fire.
Attorney Jeff Ellis says his client’s confession was coerced and that Pang only admitted to arson to avoid murder charges.
O'Leary says that's nonsense and that Pang went so far as to draw a diagram of exactly how he set the fire.
“He's basically calling everybody's integrity into question,” said O’Leary. “I don't appreciate that.”
In his confession, Pang said he was in California, but flew back to Seattle, set the fire, and flew back to same day.
Now, nearly 18 years after four families lost fathers, brothers and husbands, O'Leary says the case should be put to rest.
“These families suffered immeasurably. You have no idea how much there is an impact when you lose a loved one. You could call it manslaughter. I call it a homicide. These guys were murdered.”
Martin Pang was convicted of four counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 35 years. He is eligible for parole in 2018.