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Dozens Displaced in Bellevue Apartment Fire

Crews from fire departments around the region, including Eastside Fire & Rescue, helped Bellevue firefighters, who arrived to find flames coming out of the roof of the multi-story structure.

A fire at the Newporter Apartment buildings Tuesday night displaced 50 to 60 people, some of whom were expected to need temporary help with housing from the Red Cross, according to the Bellevue Fire Department. 

At 8:21, p.m., Bellevue Fire received several reports from residents of fire coming from Building A at the Newporter Apartments, 5900 119th Ave. S.E. in the Newport Hills neighborhood.

"The first unit arrived within 7 minutes  to find flames coming from the roof of the structure, immediately asked for a second alarm knowing this isn’t a sprinklered building," said Bellevue Fire Department spokesman Lt. Troy Donlin.

Bellevue firefighters were assisted by fire departments from around the region in the multiple-alarm fire, including Kirkland, Renton, Mercer Island and Eastside Fire & Rescue. There were no serious injuries.

Firefighters pulled a large fire hose to the third floor, where the majority of the fire was in the attic space, he said. Firefighters took 45 minutes to control the fire, he said.

About 50 to 60 people were displaced, and it wasn't immediately clear if any of them could reoccupy the building Tuesday night, Donlin said. The Red Cross was enroute to help.

Donlin said firefighters hoped that some people could get back in Tuesday night on the first and second floors.

"The third floor is almost all affected because of smoke and water damage."

Firefighters don't know the cause or where it started. 

"We don’t know the point of origin, whether it started in a unit and went to the attic space or started in the attic space," he said.

There apparently were early reports that some people couldn't get out of the building but Donlin said they didn't have problems getting people out. He didn't know if firefighters had to use ladders to get them out or if they got out themselves, but no one was trapped.

"We have a large, non-sprinklered building, a lot of fire in the attic space, it’s a free open area for it to burn."

An engine was expected to remain on scene overnight to monitor it, Donlin said.

The blaze occurred at the Newporter Apartments, 5900 block of 119th Avenue Southeast, a three-building complex close to the Newport Hills shopping center.

The fire closed off the intesection of 119th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 60th Street.

Initial reports had flames coming through the roof of the three story building, according to the Kirkland Fire Department Facebook page.

Evacuated residents calmly gathered outside on the smoky street as firefighters from Bellevue, Eastside Fire & Rescue and Kirkland battled the blaze. Some wore bathrobes in the 40-degree darkness.

Nicole Banse, 32, and her son, Keegan, 10, sat outside on the sidewalk with Keegan’s Betta fish, Jaws, in a bowl. The two live on the second floor in the building that caught fire.

“We were just sitting down watching TV and the alarms for the apartment building went off,” Banse said. At first they didn’t think much of it, but they smelled smoke and came downstairs, where it was strong enough to make them cough and their eyes tear.

Banse said they grabbed just the fish, her purse and car keys – but she couldn’t get her car out because it was blocked by the fire response.

Zenia Mendez, 21, who lives on the first floor of building A with three family members said that she and her family at first didn't think it was a big deal until they saw the Bellevue Fire Department.

"We stepped out of the apartment, and the fire fighters told us to get out, so we grabbed a few things and got out," she said.

Mendez, a Seattle Pacific University student, grabbed her school work and laptop, and was concerned about finals at the end of this week.

Jeremy Lawson, 25, said he was walking back from Mustard Seed Bar and Grill, which is next to the apartment complex.

"I think I live directly below" the unit on fire, he said. 

 

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