A three-alarm fire caused heavy damage to a Hazel Dell apartment complex before dawn Sunday, as residents rushed to evacuate and alert their neighbors of the danger.
At least one person sustained injuries that were not life-threatening from the fire, which broke out in the Bridge Creek Apartment Homes, 9211 N.E. 15th Ave., a multistory complex east of Northeast Highway 99.
The fire was reported at 5:12 a.m. in Building M, a three-story block containing 18 apartments. The first firefighters arrived early Sunday morning to find a large fire. They used a ladder to rescue a woman who was trapped on a third-floor balcony, and called for a second alarm. The fire finally grew to a third alarm, making it the biggest fire in Hazel Dell since the Rolling Creek Apartments fire in April 2011.
All people and pets were safely evacuated from the burning apartments and it took crews about two hours to extinguish the flames, said Sarah Mitchelson, a spokeswoman for Clark County Fire District 6. One resident suffered blisters and burns to his back and took a private vehicle to an urgent care clinic, she said.
The fire appeared to start in a corner unit on the third floor, Mitchelson said. The fire left the entire third floor charred, and the building’s roof had collapsed in some spots. All of the building’s apartments will be uninhabitable until major repairs are made.
Mitchelson also said residents played a big role in making sure their neighbors evacuated the building quickly. People were knocking on doors, saying, “It’s time to get out. There’s a fire,” she said. “They were very efficient about it.”
Tiffany Alziebler, 28, a third-floor resident of Building M, said she woke up Sunday morning to the sounds of “a bunch of banging and yelling.” Her boyfriend opened the back sliding-glass door to the apartment, and a boy standing on the ground below told him to evacuate.
“There were some flames on the porch,” Alziebler said. “I said, ‘Yeah, we have to get out now.’ … I got out with my cat, my purse, my boyfriend — that’s it.”
Alziebler sat in the apartment complex’s community center, trying to calm her cat, Dude, who was wrapped in a Red Cross blanket. She said she planned to stay at her aunt’s house for a while, but she had to wait until fire crews moved their trucks, which were blocking her vehicle in the parking lot.
Mitchelson estimated about 70 Bridge Creek residents were displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross was on the scene to assist displaced residents. The organization offered breakfast to the victims, and a C-Tran bus was brought so they could have a warm place to wait.