Updated at 12:32 p.m. with additional information and photo from Snohomish County Fire District 1.
By Doug Petrowski
At least two units of the J Building of the Taluswood Apartments were heavily damaged in a two-alarm fire Monday morning. No injuries were reported. One resident had to be rescued by firefighters as he was hanging from his third-story balcony.
Fire units from Mountlake Terrace, Brier and Shoreline were called to the three-story building in the back northeast corner of the apartment complex beginning just before 7:30 Monday morning. Two apartments were engulfed “in heavy fire” when firefighters arrived, according to Leslie Hynes, public information officer for Snohomish County Fire District 1.
It appears all residents evacuated the building safely. A Support 7 chaplain was onsite quickly to assist residents; the Red Cross is expected to provide additional help later.
One resident was evaluated by firefighters for exposure to smoke, but did not require treatment, Hynes said. A firefighter sustained a minor injury, but was able to continue work.
More than 35 firefighters from Fire District 1, Lynnwood and Shoreline were on the scene at the peak of the fire.
The fire caused heavy damage to four apartments on the third-floor and water damage to at least eight other units, Hynes said. Red Cross is assisting the residents displaced from these 12 apartments. At the time, Red Cross is still working to determine how many people will be displaced by the fire.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is being conducted by Fire District 1. At the time, investigators do not have a dollar loss for this fire.
Residents reported smoke spreading through the entire third floor of the building. Flames were heaviest in the stairwell leading to the upper unit, but were seen on balconies, areas of the roof and inside apartments.
Resident Ruben Villegas was in the bathroom of his third-story apartment when he heard the alarm. “I couldn’t get out the front, so I climbed over the side of the porch,” Villegas said. “I was going to climb down to the ground when the fire department showed up.” Firefighters from Mountlake Terrace Fire Station 19 were the first to arrive on the scene and were alerted by a police officer that Villegas was hanging off the third-story balcony. They quickly carried a ladder to the building and rescued him.
Resident Navi Phambata was on his way to work when his wife called to tell him the building was on fire. Phambata said his wife escaped the fire carrying their two small children, ages 2 1/2 and 1, still dressed in their pajamas.
Taluswood Apartments maintenance technician Randle West lives in Building J and is credited with alerting residents to vacate the building. “I heard the alarm and saw the flames, so I started pounding on doors and telling people to get out,” West said.