• Everett man killed in New Year's Eve fire identified

    Updated:

    EVERETT, Wash. - One person died and several others were injured, after flames tore through an Everett apartment building.

    On Thursday, Jan. 7, officials identified the person killed in the fire as 65-year-old Mark Davis.

    Fire officials have concluded their investigation into the fire. 

    They have officially ruled the cause of the fire as undetermined.

    "Although we know the fire originated in a bedroom and started on a mattress, we did not have enough evidence to come to a single conclusion, therefore this fire must be classified as undetermined," Assistant Fire Marshal Eric Hicks said in a statement.

    Fifteen people were taken to hospitals, including children. 

    The fire started just after 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

    It was reported as a mattress fire but quickly spread to other units. It grew to a three-alarm fire.

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    Investigators are still trying to determine the official cause and origin.

    It took about 90 firefighters to put out the fire that destroyed building E at the Bluffs Apartments at 2 W. Casino Rd.

    Firefighters continued to put out hot spots for 16 hours, in addition to returning periodically on New Year’s Day.

    Residents tried to salvage what was left on Friday, as they looked for new options for housing.

    The Red Cross said 30 people were registered to sleep at their shelter Friday night.

    Some of them had jumped to safety, barely escaping the flames.

    “We jumped out of the window, and we were passing the small kids first, and then the adults would stay last,” said 13-year-old Heber Mendez.

    Mendez’s aunt burned her wrist, and his uncle hurt his back as he jumped from a balcony.

    The building did not have sprinklers. 

    Vitaliy Pavlus, 20, was on his way to a New Year's Eve celebration at his church.

    He saw the flames and rushed to help police officers by grabbing nearby ladders. People were trapped on balconies and firefighters weren't there yet.
     
    "We grabbed the ladders and threw them over the fence and helped the police officers take the kids down and the ladies from the third floor," described Pavlus. "Then two apartments to the left, there was a lady that threw her kid down and her husband or neighbors caught the kid."
     
    Firefighters were able to get inside the building and found one adult resident was dead. Wynter Wallace lives next door. She watched and worried. "It was one apartment at first then it totally engulfed," said Wallace, who watched them carry out an injured child.

    One of the victims was in critical condition, two others were in serious condition and the rest suffered minor injuries, the Everett Fire Department said Thursday. 

    The apartment building housed more than 100 people. The Red Cross was brought in to help the victims. A shelter was set up at Bible Baptist Church nearby.

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    Staffing concerns among Everett, Wash. firefighters

    The fire comes at a time when Everett firefighters are raising concerns about staffing.

    Those concerns were amplified last year when a city consultant suggested closing two fire stations to save money.

    "We're going to be taking a look at this fire to make sure we had the resources we needed," said Sue Evans, a spokeswoman for the Everett Firefighters union.

    City officials said Jan. 1 that the first Everett unit arrived in less than five minutes, and six city units were on scene within ten minutes.

    Evans also said there's no evidence staffing problems were a factor in this fire.

    But the union has repeatedly raised concerns about fire staffing, including at a city council committee meeting last month.

    The firefighters union told councilmembers its analysis shows longer response times, and that emergency calls have been rising since the late 1970s, while the number of units on duty has not kept pace.          

    Since 2010, the number of on duty units has dropped.

    "If units aren't available and they're not ready to go, then we have a huge risk on our hands," Everett Fire Captain Sebastian Sittig told city councilmembers in December.

    City officials say they face reduced revenue and need to make sure the fire department runs efficiently.

    A city consultant suggested closing two fire stations, but city officials have not actually proposed that.

    "Whether we like it or not, we're in a situation where we are forced to make tough choices and we have to look for efficiencies," Mayor Ray Stephanson said at the December committee meeting.

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