2-alarm fire rips through Ballard apartment

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

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SEATTLE - It didn't take Seattle firefighters long to realize they might need help putting out the flames at the 24-unit Telemark apartments. 

"What the incident commander said is that from the front side they were seeing smoke," said Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean.  "Smoke was changing colors. It was getting darker. They were having trouble finding the apartment initially with the smoke in the hallway." 

So they pulled a second-alarm, alerting Chief Dean.

"I respond to all two alarm and higher fires."

The fire in the 2800 block of NW 56th Street started just before 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning when many people were just waking up. One resident went around, pounding on doors, alerting neighbors, according to a woman who didn't want to be identified.

"So we ran outside here," she said.  "And we could see some smoke."

The flames were so intense that residents of neighboring complexes were concerned for their safety, too.

"My neighbor came and knocked on my door and told me I should probably close my windows because the apartment next door was on fire," said Cheree Halverson, who has lived in the Ballard neighborhood for more than five years.

But firefighters contained the flames largely to the one, third-floor apartment but the apartments above and below were heavily damaged, too.  Eight residents were forced out of the nearly 40-year-old complex.

Still the greatest damage was to the apartment where the fire started.

"Her roommate was picking through the clothes," said one resident.  "So it's too bad."

Fire investigators concluded an overloaded electrical cord was the cause.

Damage was estimated at $60,000.