3-alarm blaze destroys Vancouver apt building

A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)
A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A 3-alarm blaze displaced about 80 residents of a Vancouver apartment building early Sunday morning, injuring at least one person and destroying the building.

The fire broke out on the third story on the east side of the complex in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, authorities told KOIN 6 News. There were 18 units in that section of the building.

A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)
A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)

Firefighters rescued one woman from a third story balcony, and one man in his mid-50s suffered severe burns to his shoulder. Officials said he was treated at the scene and took himself to get more treatment.

Deborah Sheldon was up when the fire began.

“It was about 4:30, 5 in the morning because I was watching my brand new TV that we just bought,” she told KOIN 6 News. “You could hear crackling and then all of a sudden I looked outside and you could see smoke going by, and by the time I opened the door onto the porch it was back flashing along the top and the bottom of our roof.

“So I just started yelling ‘get out, get out, get out, get out’ and banging on the neighbors, because there was fire shooting out flames.”

A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)
A 3-alarm fire forced residents out of this Vancouver apartment building in the 9200 block of 15th Avenue, March 16, 2014 (Clark County Fire Department)

Sheldon said she grabbed her phone, her dog and cat and ran out.

“Just got out of there as fast as we could, tried to wake up the neighbors because a lot of them were sleeping.”

Debra Sheldon lost everything in a 3-alarm fire at a Vancouver apartment building, March 16, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Debra Sheldon lost everything in a 3-alarm fire at a Vancouver apartment building, March 16, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Sheldon’s apartment suffered water damage. The entire top floor was burned but the sprinklers in all the apartments went off and the fire department hoses poured the water in. She said the bottom two stories of the building are underwater.

“We’ve lost everything,” she said. “I don’t know, just stiff upper lip, I guess. There’s nothing to do about it, so I just hope insurance — we’ve got renters insurance — so we’ll just start all over again.”

Sheldon said they’ve got family helping out, “so we’ll be fine.”

The building is a total loss. At this time, a cause for the fire has not yet been determined.

Red Cross volunteers are helping with food and shelter for those who are displaced.

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