Smoking blamed for Capitol Hill apartment fire

by: Gary Horcher Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Seattle fire Investigators found discarded smoking materials inside a Capitol Hill apartment gutted by fire Tuesday night. Flames and a column of black smoke could be seen for miles, all over Seattle.

No one was inside the unit where the fire started at 311 Bellevue Avenue East, but Michael Hughes first spotted the flames from his patio deck next door.

“When we saw the fire, I ran to knock on all the doors to get people out,” Hughes said. “People were like, ‘what fire?’ and then they saw the smoke. I pulled the fire alarms and called 9-1-1. People got out really fast,” he said.

Firefighters had to break the apartment’s door down with an axe to reach the biggest flames, which had burst through the roof of the five-story building.

Michael Hughes was relieved his neighbors in the 24-unit complex took his warning seriously, and immediately ran outside.

“They wouldn’t have known there was a fire,” he said. “I don’t know why the alarms didn’t go off until we pulled them, but I’m happy people followed us outside.”

Investigators tell KIRO 7 the damage was largely contained to one apartment unit. The loss is estimated to be more than $70,000.