Firefighters rescue two from their burning apartment unit in Downtown Seattle

Firefighters rescue two people from their burning apartment in the Downtown Seattle
Photo by John Odegard

SEATTLE— At 10:28 a.m., The Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Alarm Center received a 911 call from Kendal Sprague and Gracie Reynolds reporting two people on a 5th floor balcony waving for help as smoke billowed from their apartment window from across the freeway. Kendal and Gracie were unable to verify the apartment’s address from their vantage point, so they drove directly to the building to inform our dispatcher of the correct location (700 block of 7th Ave.).

Kendal and Gracie remained on scene to alert another building resident to pull the fire alarm, thus alerting all residents to evacuate. Gracie then tried communicating with the two people on the balcony, but soon realized one of them was using American Sign Language. Fortunately, Gracie also knew American Sign Language and was able to assure them to stay calm and that help was on the way.

Ladder 1 and Engine 10 were first on scene at approx. 10:33 a.m. with additional firefighters arriving shortly after. Crews from Ladder 1 quickly raised their aerial ladder to gain access to the two people stranded on their balcony, then proceeded to assist both of them down to safety. The residents are a 43-year-old male and 39-year-old female who are both in stable condition, and were transported to a hospital for further medical care.

Crews from Engine 10 and Engine 6 laid an extended hose line up to the unit on fire, while additional crews conducted a primary search of the building. As the crews from Engine 6 attempted to make entry into the unit, they identified a bicycle that was directly behind the front door, thus blocking the entrance. However, the firefighters were able to take the door completely off, then make their way in to pour water on the fire.

By 11 a.m. the fire was fully extinguished, and a secondary search of the fire room confirmed that no additional occupants were inside. The incident is currently under investigation.

Thank you to Gracie and Kendal for quickly reporting the fire and aiding in alerting all residents to evacuate the building. Both of your actions helped save lives.

Safety tip:

  • Please ensure your doorways are clear from furniture or other personal items that may block your ability to escape in an emergency.
  • The Seattle Fire Department has a limited supply of strobe smoke alarms that we can install for Seattle residents who are deaf. These strobe smoke alarms plug into an electrical outlet and must be installed in the sleeping room. Residents may request a free strobe smoke alarm using this online request form or by calling (206) 291-7681.

Updated May 16: Our investigators determined the fire was accidental, and likely caused by malfunctioning rechargeable batteries. The estimated loss is $35,000.