January 16—Seattle Fire Investigators determined unattended candles are to blame for an early morning fire on top of Queen Anne Hill. At 3:44 a.m., a call came into Fire Dispatchers reporting a person was trapped inside a second floor unit apartment.
Engine Company 8 arrived to find flames coming from a second floor unit. Firefighters rushed inside and found heavy black smoke filling the entire second floor of the 4-story apartment complex located at 23 West Galer Street.
Firefighters quickly went door to door to make sure the approximately 3 dozen residents evacuated from the building. Ladder Company 4 Firefighters quickly extended a ladder to the second floor to evacuate a male in his 30’s who lived in the unit right next door to the apartment on fire. Medics checked out evacuated residents but none of them required medical treatment.
Firefighters aggressive attack contained the flames to a second floor unit and prevented the fire from extending to other units in the complex. It took about 30 minutes to completely extinguish the flames.
Fire Investigators determined the fire started in the kitchen of a second floor unit. Candles were left unattended on the refrigerator. The flame from the candles caught other combustibles on fire. The resident was able to escape from her unit without any injuries.
The SFD Investigators are calling this an accidental fire and estimate damage at $100,000 to the structure and $30,000 to the contents.
Due to the cold weather, the Incident Commander ordered a Metro Bus to keep the evacuated residents warm. Around 6:30 a.m. all of the residents were allowed back into the building.
The unit where the fire originated was a total loss. Red Cross was called to provide temporary housing for 2 separate residents and their dogs.
The Seattle Fire Public Education Unit offers some rules to follow to prevent candle fires from starting in your home.
• Always keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or before you go to sleep.
• Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
• Placed lighted candles where they won’t be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
• Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, flammable decorations, etc….
• Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions. Do not burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
• Extinguish pillar and taper candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder. Discontinue burning votive and container candles before the last half inch of wax melts.