VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Overheated cooking oil sparked a blaze that badly burned one Vancouver woman and left 14 people without a home Monday.
The fire began in a triplex along SE 152nd where a mom and 4 daughters lived. Someone was heating oil to make French Fries but left it unattended. The oil heated to the point of ignition and set the stove on fire.
The mother ran in, picked up the pan to move it away, but instead got badly burned when the oil spilled. She ran outside for help and alerted people about the fire.
Jasmine Alayadhi, a neighbor who helped the burned mom, said her daughter “was over there playing and the girls came running out of the house screaming, ‘Fire!’ My husband was in the front yard working and he ran over there.”
She said the mom came out with “burns all over her body,” and her husband got a fire extinguisher and went to put the blaze out.
“The only thing I could think of was get her in the car and get her to the hospital,” Alayadhi told KOIN 6 News. “She needs medical treatment urgently.”
Cooking fires are the Number 1 cause of unintentional fires in Vancouver. The oil heats, reaches ignition temperatures and ignites the vapors — Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli
On their way to Southwest Washington Medical Center they flagged down a police officer. “He called 911 and the ambulance came, but it was so severe they ended up taking her to Emanuel Burn Center.”
The firefighters also brought an ambulance and she said they asked her “about 5 times, ‘Are you sure the fire’s out?'” She told them yes, but one fireman’s “gut instinct” told him to check on the triplex about 20 minutes later.
As they walked through the apartments everything looked fine. But the fire had gone up through a vent and into the attic. He checked the vents “and that’s when we saw the flames coming out of the roof.”
Crews got the blaze under control, but 2 of the 3 units are uninhabitable because of the fire.
Aaron — who asked not to have his last name used — lived in the unit next to where the fire began. He told KOIN 6 News he was looking out the back door and holding his granddaughter when he noticed smoke coming low to the ground.
“Seconds later a fireman stepped out and was already next door,” Aaron said, adding the firefighter ordered everyone to leave.
Aaron’s apartment has smoke and water damage and he said he lost “everything in my bedroom.” But he said he just feels badly for his neighbor.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words other than I feel bad for my neighbor,” he said.
Alayadhi said the mom and her kids have lost eveything.
“They’re barely making it month-to-month, day-to-day, so I want to try to do what I can to help these families.”
The damage to the triplex is estimated at $50,000. The people in the 2 damaged units don’t have renters insurance.
The Laurelwood Baptist Church on 172nd Avenue is collecting clothes for everyone affected by the fire
The Red Cross is helping the 8 adults and 6 kids to find a temporary place to stay. The Laurelwood Baptist Church on 172nd Avenue is collecting clothes for everyone affected by the fire.
“Any help, anything anybody can do — furniture, anything, food, clothing — the only thing they were able to save was their car,” she said.
There’s one other thing the family needs, Jasmine Alayadhi said.
“The families need people’s prayers right now.”