Eight people — including a mother and her infant — were rescued from a burning apartment building off Ninth Avenue and Madison Street on Sunday.
Seattle Fire Department officials said crews were called to the building just before 8:30 p.m. The fire was escalated to a three-alarm response because additional resources were needed to fight the flames and provide medical care.
Firefighters said that when they arrived at the scene, multiple people were screaming for help on the fourth floor. Seattle Fire Department spokesman David Cuerpo said they were unable to escape through the main hallway due to smoke.
Firefighters were met with heavy smoke, high heat and residents needing help to get out as they made their way through the fourth-floor hallway in search of the fire.
Crews used a 35-foot ladder to rescue a woman and her infant son from their fourth-floor unit. They were not hurt.
Additional crews searched all fourth-floor apartments, which led to more residents being rescued as they were unable to get out on their own.
Cuerpo said three people were taken to Harborview Medical Center. A man and a woman — both 60 years old — are in critical condition and an 81-year-old man is in serious condition.
Five firefighters were also evaluated, two of whom were taken to Harborview Medical Center.
Crews also rescued a service dog, which was reunited with its handler.
A man who lives across the street said he saw people rushing out of the four-story building as the flames continued to rise.
“In this expensive neighborhood and this was a low income unit. It’s one of the few that’s still left. And we often see people with walkers and wheelchairs. And it’s Section 8, and unfortunately, it’s really sad. Where are these people going to go tonight?” said neighbor Nicolas Volante. “I’ve put out (notice) to my friends in the area (to) kind of keep everyone in prayer and see what we can do as a community.”
The American Red Cross was helping those who were displaced and two King County Metro buses were requested to act as temporary warming shelters for residents.
The fire also spread to a space in the ceiling and burned through the roof.
According to Cuerpo, the entire third and fourth floors were determined to be permanently unsafe for people to inhabit. Residents from 63 units were displaced.
Investigators determined the fire was accidental on Monday. According to fire officials, the fire was caused by an open flame that tipped over onto a mattress, causing it to ignite.
The total estimated loss is $1 million.
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