Two-alarm Parkland fire leaves 20 people homeless

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A massive two-alarm fire that raced through the Aravia Apartment complex in Parkland is being blamed on a charcoal grill.

A dozen apartments were affected, and at least two units were destroyed. Some residents said the sprinkler system never came on. They said that is why the damage was so extensive.

They tried putting the flames out with fire extinguishers they found all over the building. But they could not put the flames out.

On this Sunday, the people who lived in this third-floor apartment sifted through what remains after a roaring fire that began in a charcoal grill on their deck quickly raced through these units at the Aravia apartments on Saturday night.

“They went through three extinguishers before it completely engulfed the apartment,” said Jessica Greenwell, standing in a room, its belongings charred by the flames.

She was there to have dinner with her friends. Instead, they all jumped into action. But she said the sprinkler system did not work.

“The extinguishers did work,” said Greenwell. “The extinguishers worked. But it did not help because the fire had gotten into the wall and into the crawl spaces.”

Eventually, Central Pierce Fire and Rescue put out the flames. But by then, the damage was extensive.

Jared Theisen tried to help to put out the flames. He, too, spent this Sunday trying to salvage what he could.

“I got some things back,” said Theisen. “A lot of it’s just gone. Yeah, the roof’s not there. It all kind of caved in, so everything’s buried. A lot of stuff’s damaged.”

KIRO 7 asked a woman with the apartment management about the sprinkler system. But she said the management won’t comment until the fire marshal completes his investigation.

“It’s still hard not to cry when you look into every single room,” said Greenwell, her voice breaking. “And I’m not even the one who lives here.”

Still, her friends and everyone else here see a bit of a silver lining.

“Praise the Lord that there were not fatalities,” said Greenwell. “This fire destroyed nothing but stuff because it could have been so much worse.”

In fact, her friends ran back in to rescue their cats. Firefighters said that is extremely dangerous, and they don’t recommend it. But in this case, everyone, including the animals, survived.

This fire left 20 people homeless. The Red Cross is providing shelter for those who want it.

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