Updated 4:10 p.m. Firefighters rescued eight people from a two-alarm house fire on the corner of NW 65th St. and 9th Ave. NW early this morning. When rescue crews arrived, they discovered the house engulfed in flames and people trapped on the roof, both in front and back of the home.
“I was so scared, I thought I was going to die,” 16-year-old Ashley Luberts told a Seattle Times reporter about standing on the roof, surrounded by smoke and flames. Her 74-year-old grandmother, Maria Luberts, was also perched on the roof, waiting for rescue with the rest of the family.
“When we woke up, all we could hear is the screaming,” said Jim, a neighbor, who said he was hit with a wall of smoke when he raced outside. “The grandmother was stuck on the roof, so we tried to get her down.”
Lt. Sue Stangl with Seattle Fire tells us firefighters rescued six people off the roof near the back of the house and the elderly woman from the front. “She was on the edge of the roof, and police officers and firefighters helped her down, and basically she jumped into their arms,” said Stangl. “They did a fantastic job.”
All eight were taken to the hospital. The grandmother suffered from smoke inhalation, but she’s expected to fully recover, family members say. A 12-year-old girl, Ashley’s sister, suffered burns to her arms and hands. The others escaped with just minor injuries.
“It was pretty scary,” Jim told us. “I’m just glad they all got out.”
Lt. Tom Erickson from Engine 21 in Greenwood arrived just after Ballard’s Engine 18. He was part of the rescue team that entered the blazing home to make sure nobody was inside. “There was a lot of fire in there,” he said. “We stayed in there as long as we could, until they told us to get out.”
Battalion Chief Alan Cox says the first crews to respond may receive an award for the rescue. When we talked to firefighters about it, they dismissed the possibility and said they were just doing their jobs.
The fire was dispatched at 4:10 a.m. and quickly escalated to a two-alarm blaze. The two-story house appears to be a total loss. Still at this hour, the gutted structure is smoking, with firefighters occasionally dousing hot spots.
With 23 degree temperatures, the first hydrant broke as firefighters attempted to connect a hose. Water from fighting the fire turned into a sheet of ice over 65th and 9th. City crews spread salt over the ice to prevent firefighters from slipping.
With the fire under control, cold firefighters took refuge in a metro bus called to the scene to help warm them up. Some of their helmets were caked with ice.
After being closed much of the day, NW 65th Street reopened this afternoon.
A news helicopter hovered over the neighborhood for much of the early morning. From the moment the fire was dispatched, Silver posted updates in the forum here. (Thanks Silver for your help!)