A fire in an apartment on the 200 block of East Wishkah Street in Aberdeen led to blocked traffic for roughly an hour Friday afternoon. The building’s fire alarm appeared to be broken.
The fire was restricted to one unit and the Aberdeen Fire Department contained it within about 15 minutes, Battalion Chief Troy Palmer reported.
“When we got there the building was being evacuated, there was light smoke coming from the rear of the second story,” Palmer said.
The woman who lived in the burned apartment was transported to Grays Harbor Community Hospital with undisclosed injuries before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center. Firefighters weren’t initially sure whether the woman was home. Palmer described her injuries as “severe.”
Palmer said fire alarms had been pulled, but the alarm system appeared to not be functioning. The building does not have a sprinkler system.
Apartment Manager Jeremy Eaton said that when he first saw smoke coming from one of the units, he climbed in through a window and used a fire extinguisher to try to put out the fire. He left because the smoke was too thick. He went around into the hallway and, when he saw more smoke, kicked in the front door and emptied another extinguisher. He was choking from smoke inhalation and said the smoke was too thick to see if anyone was in the apartment.
Neighbors said the woman’s mattress caught fire, but Palmer declined to describe the source, saying the investigation was not yet complete.
More than a dozen residents were evacuated as firefighters worked, but Palmer said they were all able to go home after investigators finished their work Friday evening. Aberdeen Police were on scene to help direct the evacuation, and 11 firefighters and two command staff from Aberdeen Fire worked on the scene with a fire engine, ladder truck, two medical units and a command unit.
The building now houses apartments and a cash advance store, but was once the home of Hotel Gray and later, Rosevear’s Music. Built in 1926, apartments were added after World War II.
It was an unusually busy day for Aberdeen firefighters. Palmer said by 9 p.m. Friday the department had responded to 20 calls, compared to an average of 13 during a 24-hour coverage period. He had high praise for the hard work of the department’s firefighters.
“I’m just extremely proud of the job that they’ve done today. They’ve been very busy and they’ve been professional and they’ve just handled everything that’s come their way.”