by: Alison Grande Updated:
EVERETT, Wash. - One man died in an Everett apartment fire Friday afternoon, even after a stranger raced to try to save residents.
Karl Lehmann saw smoke and flames pouring out of the San Marco Apartments at 2401 Rucker Avenue.
He parked his car and ran into the building. “Ran up to the units here and started banging on everybody’s door and yelling -- fire, fire,” said Lehmann.
He got a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the flames around the second-floor unit but the fire was out of control.
That’s when Lehmann and another man tried to kick down the door of the unit below to make sure no one was home.
“The door got kicked in. We both searched the apartment. I noticed rolling flames on the ceiling and I knew it was time for us to get out,” Lehmann said.
Neighbors heard loud explosions. Lesley Wilmot ran outside to see what was happening and saw it was the apartment complex across the street. She used the camera on her cellphone and worried about the residents. “Obviously if there’s explosions, it’s going to be detrimental,” said Wilmot, ”I just worried for the safety of the people who lived there.”
Fire crews arrived and put out the fire. They found a man dead in a second floor apartment. His name hasn’t been released. Other residents say he’s lived there more than 15 years.
They say he spent most of his time inside the apartment, and that another couple helped him by bringing him food. The medical examiner had not released his name Friday night.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Friday night it was still undetermined.
Neighbors say the man who died was on oxygen and they thought it must be his oxygen tanks exploding.didn't
Assistant Fire Marshal Eric Hicks said firefighters didn’t find any exploded tanks.
According investigators, the fire destroyed two units, damaged two more. Smoke and water damage forced residents out of the entire building. The Red Cross was called in to help.
For Karl Lehmann learning a man died today, despite his efforts, was upsetting.
“I tried my best. I figured to be a good Samaritan and try to help people out. That’s what I tried to do today,” said Lehmann.