UPDATE: 3-Alarm Fire Kills Three, Leaves 50 Homeless

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UPDATE: A major three-alarm fire in Burien last night left three people dead, injured six and left around 50 people homeless.

The fire, in the 400 block of SW 155th Street, was reported at about 12:45am Sunday morning.

“I heard an explosion and glass shattering,” said Lisa Johnson, who a resident of the apartment building. “So I automatically had my granddaughter with me and came out.”

“The streets were just filled with people running and screaming … and the apartment was in flames,” she said.

The first fire crews roared in, sirens wailing and horns blaring, to find a two-story apartment building with heavy fire and smoke pouring from the front of the building, said Dave Nelson, spokesman for King County Fire District 20.

The two-alarm blaze quickly escalated to a three-alarm fire when an adjacent apartment building’s roof caught fire, and more fire crews were needed to battle the spreading flames.

Kenneth Mason, who lives nearby, came running when he saw the crackling flames and that’s when he spotted five people, including a baby, trapped behind a jammed-shut glass door in the burning building.

Mason yelled at a woman in the trapped group.

“I said, ‘Get out! Get out! There’s a fire! There’s a fire!’ and she said, ‘We can’t get out!’ And my friend Sam grabbed a big old brick and went and busted the glass door,” he said.

“And they threw the baby out and gave me the baby, and the rest of the guys came out – and then the fire really got bad.”

Amid the mayhem, a teenage girl jumped from a second-story window in another part of the building, suffering injuries.

Ladder trucks from Tukwila and Renton were able to pour water from above while King County firefighters took a defensive position to stop the fire from spreading to two other buildings.

The first building was completely destroyed and the second building suffered major damage.

Six people were treated at area hospitals, including the girl who jumped from her window. Other injuries include burns and smoke inhalation.

As of Sunday morning, fire officials were still accounting for occupants of both buildings. Many people went with family and friends and to Highline Medical Center to be with family members who were injured.

No firefighters were injured battling the fire.

Firefighters from around South King County assisted in fighting the fire including Renton, Tukwila, Kent, Seatac, South King Fire and Rescue, North Highline, King County Medic One, King County Fire District 20, Seattle and King County Sheriff Fire Marshals Office.

The Seattle Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting nearly 50 displaced people and sheltering them at a local school.

Firefighters will remain on scene to assist in the investigation.

At this time due to the building’s weakness fire investigators will have to wait until its safe to go inside the first building to determine the cause.

Damage estimates are not available at this time.

Stay tuned to the B-Town Blog for an online fundraising drive to help your neighbors in need.


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