6 rescued from balconies as fire destroys apartments

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - More than 90 people were displaced by a raging overnight fire at a Federal Way apartment complex, including six people who were trapped on their balconies and had to be rescued by firefighters using ladders.

Fire crews responded to the scene, the 27-unit Crestview West Apartments in the 27900 block of Pacific Highway South, at about 1 a.m. Friday after receiving reports of smoke and flames.

When they arrived, thick flames were shooting from the roof and panicked residents were escaping from the burning structure.

Residents tell KOMO News that fire alarms started going off just before 1 a.m., but the evacuation was chaotic.

Six people on the upper floor of the complex tried to escape through inner hallways but were forced back inside by heavy smoke, heat and flames. They ran to their balconies, where firefighters spotted them screaming for help.

Fire crews reached four people on the south side of the building with ladder trucks. A stand-up ladder was used to save two people on the north side of the building.

Everyone escaped with their lives, but one person with asthma was injured.

The fire and smoke damaged all 27 units, forcing 91 people out of their homes.

"Scary, smokey," said one resident. "People were standing out panicked."

"I walked around and looked around and I started hearing people running and I started hearing water and so that's when I came out," says another resident, Tracey Hargrove. "It was smoke and flames everywhere."

She says the fire destroyed her apartment. She only escaped with the clothes on her back and her bird cage.

Firefighters say the fire is trapped in the roof because a new roof was constructed over an old roof. It continues to burn as of 7 a.m.

As crews fought the fire and mopped up, dazed residents stood around in shock wrapped in coats and blankets. The Red Cross responded to the scene and is trying to find temporary housing for everyone who was displaced.

Investigators are focusing on a third-floor kitchen on the southeast corner of a building where they believe the fire may have started.