Burien Fire Victim ‘Knew Something Was Wrong’ at her Apartment Monday
by Davy Desmond
While there were no injuries or deaths, Monday’s devastating 3-alarm fire displaced 88 people from the Tra-Lee Apartments in Burien – and one of those, a new resident named Mariella Quevedo, knew “something was wrong” before escaping just in time with her daughter.
Mariella and her daughter Angela were in the building when the fire broke out.
They moved here from Tampa three months ago, and were trying to start a new life. But they have been devastated by yesterday’s events, and now – they’ve got to start all over again.
“All I want is a place to sleep, a shower and somewhere to live. We lost everything,” she told The B-Town Blog through teary eyes.
“We were watching TV and my daughter was on her laptop. I stayed home from work that day, because of my back pain,” she said. “I was just trying to relax, but I sensed something was wrong. I looked out the window, and I saw someone on her cell phone looking up at our apartment. I saw the school children on my left yelling something. I listened closer – “fire! fire! look at the smoke!” I looked to the left, and saw flames coming out of the building. I then realized it was coming from our building and from our apartment!”
Wiping her eyes, she continued.
“I looked at my daughter and said ‘we have got to get out of here, now!’ We started running outside. I looked for fire-extinguishers but there weren’t any. It was like the gates of hell opened, it was really really scary…”
“My Mom should get some kind of award, ’cause she smelled the fumes and I smelled absolutely nothing and I feel like it was totally because of my mom being home from work that day that saved me,” her daughter Angela added. “If it weren’t for her, I really believe I wouldn’t be here.”
FAULTY BASEBOARD HEATER CAUSED THE FIRE
Mariella also said she thinks she knew the cause of the fire – a known, faulty baseboard heater with a broken thermostat.
“They were stuck on high, and they wouldn’t switch off,” she said. “It was like a sauna at times.”
They had called management many times to get them to fix it, yet nothing was done.
“This whole thing could have been avoided if they had listened,” she said. “The (apartment) owner only cares about picking up rent, then leaves.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DISPLACED VICTIMS
The victims of the fire are now slowly returning to their apartments, where some are being allowed to re-enter. Some of the units have apparently been reopened, although water damage is a problem.
In the meantime, the Red Cross shelter remains open at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church for those in need of a place to stay.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Donate directly to the American Red Cross here. On that page choose to make a donation to support the Seattle local chapter, the Disaster Relief Fund or Where the Need is Greatest.
- You can also call 206-323-2345 to donate.
- Financial contributions may also be mailed to (just be sure to earmark your check):
American Red Cross – Seattle
P.O. Box 3097Seattle, WA 98114
- In addition, you can also drop off a donation of cash or check in person at Burien City Hall (located at 400 SW 152nd Street, Suite #300), between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please make checks payable to the “American Red Cross.”
- If you are connected with a hotel/motel, there are many victims who will need temporary housing. Email [email protected] and we’ll connect you with the right people.
Please note that the Red Cross does NOT accept small, individual donations of goods or collections of items such as clothing, food, toys, furniture, medical or cleaning supplies. They much prefer cash donations, which can be used more efficiently.
B-TOWN BLOG FUNDRAISER COMING SOON!
We’re currently organizing a fundraiser that will be held in a couple of weeks, and we’re seeking volunteers to help. Please email [email protected] and let us know what you can do.
Here are some of our current needs:
- We need to set up a local bank account for fire victims – if you work at a Burien-based bank and can help, please contact us ASAP.
- We need items procured for a silent (or live) auction and/or raffle (this can be done via phone).
- Help promote the event via posters, phone calls, email, social media, etc.
- Helping manage event elements such as:
- Silent Auction
- Live Auction
- Other fundraising ideas – we’re open to other ideas too, and are not limiting ourselves to just one event!