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3-alarm fire in First Hill neighborhood seriously injures three and displaces all building residents

SEATTLE — June 12, at 8:23 p.m., the Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Alarm Center received 911 calls reporting heavy smoke and flames coming from windows on the top floor of a four-story apartment building on the 800 block of Madison St. As firefighters arrived on scene, dispatchers informed them of multiple people requesting evacuation as they were unable to escape through the main hallway due to smoke. Crews utilized a 35-foot ladder to rescue one woman and her infant son from their fourth-floor unit. Both mother and child were not injured.

Firefighters rescue a woman and her infant from their fourth-floor unit.

Firefighters were met with heavy smoke, high heat and foot-traffic as they made their way through the fourth-floor hallway in search of the fire room. Additional crews conducted a primary search of all fourth-floor units, which led to more residents being rescued as they were unable to evacuate on their own. Three residents sustained serious injuries related to the fire and were transported to Harborview Medical Center:

  • Approx. 60-year-old female in critical condition.
  • Approx. 60-year-old male in critical condition.
  • 81-year-old male in serious condition.

At 8:47 p.m., the incident was upgraded to a 2-alarm fire, then ten minutes later it was upgraded to a 3-alarm because additional resources were needed to fight the fire and provide medical care. Over 100 firefighters with a total of 17 fire engines, nine ladder trucks, six paramedic units and additional support staff were dispatched. In addition, two King County Metro buses were requested to provide temporary warming shelters for the residents.

At 9:17 p.m., crews reported flames burning through the roof and into the cockloft (ceiling void space), thereby spreading throughout the fourth floor. Firefighters cut through the roof and tore down the ceiling in order to gain access to the fire. Meanwhile, a primary and secondary search of the third and fourth floors were clear. No additional occupants were found.

Firefighters climb up to the rooftop to help combat the fire.

The fire was extinguished by 10:06 p.m., though a crew will remain on scene overnight to monitor for flare ups. A total of eight residents were treated at the scene, including the three with serious injuries. Five firefighters were also evaluated, two of which were transported to Harborview Medical Center for further care. The entire third and fourth floors were determined permanently unsafe for residents to inhabit. Though the property manager determined it was unsafe for all residents to return to their homes until a full assessment of the building was complete. A total of 63 occupied units were displaced. Red Cross was dispatched and coordinated with City of Seattle agencies to provide emergency shelter at the Garfield Community Center.

The incident is under investigation.

UPDATED June 13 at 12 p.m.: Investigators ruled the fire was accidental, caused by an open flame that tipped over onto a mattress and ignited it. The fire spread to other combustible materials, then burned through the roof and void spaces. Estimated loss is $1,000,000.