Firefighters rescue family from Ballard blaze

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!)

Plus: Watch video of the fire from KING 5

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

65 thoughts to “Firefighters rescue family from Ballard blaze”

  1. I can still hear it HOURS after the fire has been out.

    don’t they have some stock footage of a burning building they can use?

    seriously, good thing I don’t have a surface-to-air missle when I’m sleep deprived…wouldn’t be pretty.

  2. Glad everyone is okay. Get out of our neighborhood helicopter!!! I should not be up before 7 when I don’t work today. pffffffftttt!!!

  3. I agree 100% with the comments about the helicopter. It is time to take this up with the city. If I were to fire up a lawnmower or a leaf blower at this hour, I would rightly be accosted by neighbors and the noise abatement officers. Why is it that these vultures are allowed free reign–at any time of day?

  4. I see on’s 911 log map that a suspicious person was called from about 2 blocks away and just 17 minutes earlier. I’m hoping for a connection, just to make things more interesting. Now excuse me, I need to fire up the metal detector and look for old keys, bottle caps, and pennies. Where is my “damn seagulls” hat?

  5. Your neighbor’s house burns to the ground, 8 people nearly die and yet, somehow this is about you?

    Thank you stereotypical, self-obsessed, whining Seattleite!

  6. I must say, it’s pretty awesome to think you heard sirens or a helicopter in the wee hours and then wake up and come to this site to find such a thorough report, with photographs. Nice work, My Ballard. I do rely on you.

  7. My heart goes out to the people who have lost so much today… (and have at least kept their lives)

    And I am happy to woken up by helicopters and fire crew rather than the smell of my home burning.

  8. Wow, what a story, hats off to the fire department and their brave rescue of this family.

    As for the heli-haters, I think they post here mainly to bait other people, don’t you think?

    If not, then they’re certainly the most whiny self-centered babies I’ve ever encountered and sure need to get a life if they have so much time on their hands that they can either honestly feel the need to whine about copters, or have nothing better to do than to rile up people on a comment board.

  9. We walked by the house at about 8am and the fire crews were still there. Very scary fire, and the house looks like it’ll have to be demolished — I’m glad everyone got out! The firefighters were really nice and talked to our daughter and showed her some cool equipment. Thanks, firefighters, for getting it under control, saving the people, and keeping it from spreading to other houses!!

  10. Of course the first concern is the family. Firefighters rock!

    As for helicopters, why all the defense of them? They are just there to market and make money from someone else’s tragedy.

  11. Another heli-hater here…

    The news: they’ll wake and annoy an entire neighborhood for *another* story of tragedy. Exactly why I don’t watch the news. Assholes. After this story they reported on job loss and murder.

  12. Have to agree with the heli-haters. MyBallard did a fine job of covering this story via still photos. What would be added by footage shot from the air?

    If the firefighters or police need helicopters to do their job, fine. Wake up the whole city if needed. But the news organizations have no good reason to send them in, and definitely no reason to have them hover around a tragedy endlessly.

  13. If a news helicopter is becoming a nuisance – as they often do – call the station and loudly complain. If the station starts getting numerous angry complaints, they’ll tell the helicopter to clear out. Their logo is painted all over the side, and they don’t like to lose viewers…

  14. “Reign” was intentional; they think they are kings. As for those who think us whiners, go look up the word Scahdenfreude. That’s what the newspeople were selling.

  15. 8 people go to the hospital and lose their physical world….and people complain about a flipping helicopter waking them up? Christ almighty, where is the compassion and love, self centered!!!

    I hope that true compassion will help these unfortunate souls find their way…may peace shine upon their next home(s)….

  16. My prayers to the family and – as always – I am grateful for the bravery and dedication of our 1st responders.

    However, people do have a right to complain about the “King5” helicopter. This is one Ballard res who has a migraine because of the multiple night long fly overs ….

  17. I’d be interesting in donating some items to this family who lost their home. While insurance NORMALLY covers these losses, it can sometimes take quite awhile. Does anyone who if this is being done? I’m sure there are items that they are in need of TODAY, and if I can help, I would like to.

  18. Too bad about the family’s loss, and I hope that the injured persons have a speedy recovery to full health without any permanent disabilities.

    As for the news helicopters, they are licensed to fly, the airspace is under federal jurisdiction, and your only complaint recourse is with the news station(s) that are sending them to cover the incident- in this case that includes KIRO, KOMO, and KING.

  19. Oh that’s rich. You might as well call the city and complain that you don’t like the weather, or the color or sky.

    The city has no jurisdiction whatsoever over helicopters. Aircraft operations are federally regulated. If you hate helicopters so much, your best bet would be to contact the feds.

    Good luck with that, you spoiled, whiney child.

  20. “I really can’t stand them. loud AND obnoxious”

    Ya know, that’s what I’d think of those little people on the ground, except that I can’t hear them from up here.

  21. You know what that sound is? It’s the sound of a free press in action. Why do you hate freedom? Go back to Russia you freedom hater!

  22. “What would be added by footage shot from the air?”
    Cool factor x10. Why do you think there’s always a shot of a helicopter in every news promo?

  23. A quick note to the comprehension impaired…
    All helicopter related kidding aside, I’m very saddened to hear about this fire and I’m glad that the family living there was able to escape. I sincerely wish them all a speedy recovery from their injuries and hope that they are able to have a minimum of interruption in their lives because of this. Fires are a horrible thing and if anything positive can come from the coverage of this is that we should all take a quick assessment of our own homes. Check your smoke detectors. Check your heaters and make sure that nothing combustible can get close to them. Check electrical and make sure that you don’t have any overloaded circuits. Don’t smoke in bed or even in the house, and quit burning candles. Really. Don’t let the next story be about your house.

  24. This was right by my house, and the screams coming from the poor neighbors was what woke me out of a deep sleep. It was frightening. I am still in shock from the entire event.
    It is really amazing how some people commenting are so self absorbed, they are complaining about a helicopter, when people were fighting for their lives. Disgusting!

  25. ha ha!

    I can’t believe all the losers that responded to my post.
    had nothing to do with the fire, only the hyper-media response.

    glad I was able to make you all so angry!
    happy new year you jerks!

  26. Dude, I would like to recommend that you pursue some professional therapy, maybe get a prescription for some mood-stabilizing medications, and, in general, lighten up just a bit.

  27. We can’t find them, but the neighborhood is ready with donations and welcome more. AJ’s cell phone mailbox is full. We have contacted the SFD to see if they can help us hook up to see what they need! I can post here again when we get in touch with the family.

  28. Concerned citizens have put together a fund at Key Bank to help the family affected by this tragic fire. If you would like to help the victims, please contact Key Bank and reference, “The Luberts Fund.” The 74 yr. old home owner has just now gone back into intensive care with internal bleeding; if any of you are praying people, please remember her in your prayers.

  29. Thank you for that spot on description of Seattleites. Not all, but many of the people in this city need to grow the hell up and tune in to the rest of the world instead of living in their own little bubble 24/7. Makes me sick to my stomach.

  30. its not like every night there is a helicopter over your house stop crying about your petty little sleep problems and worry more about the why the heli was there…because some ones house burnt down!!!!

  31. ok quite honestly all of these comments are really disappointing, 1. they have absolutely nothing to do with this article and 2. some of them are just playing rude, i dont understand whats wrong with you but if you seriously are commenting this ignorantly then you need to stop . cause people from the fire may take offence to your guys’ immaturity. and by the way, i was in this fire, and yes, i do take offence. so shut up and get off this site if you have absolutely nothing good to say about it.  

  32. im sick of your stupid helicopter issues, it was one time and u really that selfsenterd that you cant just live with it?? would you rather them have all died? well at least you would have to be woken up by the helicopters. get a life!

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