by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
BREMERTON, Wash. - Residents of a Bremerton apartment complex were sent scrambling as a smoky fire raced through the building gutting two units and killing one resident.
Alarms started sounding around ten thirty Tuesday morning, but several people said it was the smoke that first alerted them to the blaze. "I smelled smoke," said Anique Bradden, "I heard the window break and I tried to get to her (the next door neighbor) but all the smoke came in so we knew it was time to get out."
Bremerton fire officials had not identified the victim by Tuesday night but neighbors said it was a woman living in one of the units hardest hit.
Damage from flames, smoke and water was extensive and at least two dozen people were left with nowhere to stay on a chilly Christmas Eve. Kimberly Nelson ran from her apartment wearing no shoes and very little clothing after the fire caught her off guard. "I was taking a shower and there was an alarm going off and I didn't know what was going on so I had to get me and my three kids out of the house."
Most residents here are low income -- all say they'll have trouble finding somewhere else to stay -- but they're lucky they got out of the burning building in time.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation Tuesday evening.