Resident wakes up neighbors as flames rip through Eugene apartment complex

Firefighters said the blaze started in an apartment occupied by a young couple with a baby. All told, the fire destroyed six apartments, firefighters said. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - A resident of an apartment complex alerted his neighbors to a fire early Tuesday morning, helping prompt the evacuation as firefighters arrived to battle the flames.

That's according to residents of Oakwood Manor and firefighters.

Battalion Chief Lance Lighty with Eugene-Springfield Fire said Efrin Gutierrez saw the flames and woke people up to alert them to the fire.

Lighty said Gutierrez went room to room, alerting the residents in all of the units in harm's way.

RELATED | Man alerts neighbors to fire in apartment complex: 'It's fire! Go to outside!'

No one was injured, but a 2-pound Chihuahua named Marley was missing.

The dog was later found and reunited with its owner.

'Surprisingly everybody got out'

Fire crews responded at 5 a.m.

Firefighters said the blaze started in an apartment occupied by a young couple with a baby.

"Where the fire started, it appeared to start, there's a family along with a baby, and they got out," Lighty said. "I believe it started at their apartment, and they said when they got out, they saw smoke and fire. They barely made it out without injury which is amazing. I attribute that to smoke detectors going off, and people alerting people."

All told, the fire destroyed six apartments and displaced 13 people, Lighty said.

"Surprisingly everybody got out," Lighty said, "and I say that because of the large volume of this fire. By the time we got here from a short distance away, it was quite advanced."

The Red Cross later said the agency was helping 11 adults and 3 children - and that the number of people receiving assistance might grow. "The shelter needs of others affected by this disaster are being addressed by the property manager," the Red Cross said in a press release.

The entire complex was evacuated as smoke alarms went off.

"Smoke alarms do save lives, and I believe in this case, that's the truth," Lighty said. "It took a lot of water from a large hose to knock the fire down, and did some strategies to move down a couple apartments. We punched holes in the ceiling and put hose lines in there to contain it to protect the rest of the apartments."

Firefighters were called to the 1600 block of Oak Patch Road around 6 a.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Lighty said to ignore the crime scene tape at the scene; it was the only tape available at the moment but does not indicate suspicion about the fire.

DEVELOPING STORY | Watch #LiveOnKVAL for updates

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