AUBURN, Wash. – A father and two of his young daughters were able to escape a fire that broke out early Wednesday morning in Auburn – but tragically his youngest child did not survive.
It happened at the Clearwater Ridge Apartments on Auburn Way South near the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation.
Firefighters were still on scene investigating the cause more than 12 hours after the first calls to 911.
Officials credit working fire alarms that alerted the family to this early morning fire but tragically one family member did not survive.
Firefighters responded around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Neighbors say they tried using fire extinguishers but intense flames were already shooting out of the second-floor unit.
“They were trying to keep it down with fire extinguishers, but, yeah, we were keeping it down but it wasn’t enough,” said neighbor Jesus.
Officials say a father and two of his children -- a 6-year-old and 7-year-old -- were able to escape the burning apartment but a toddler was still inside.
“The first arriving unit, the captain was told when he arrived that there was a victim in the upper unit in the bedroom where the fire was,” Valley Regional Fire Deputy Chief Kevin Olson said.
Firefighters made their way into the burning apartment but were met with heavy smoke and fire -- that’s when they found the 2-year-old girl’s body.
“I woke up thinking it was my apartment,” said neighbor Jake Graham.
Graham says he’s related to the victim’s family and he and neighbors tried reaching the 2-year-old but the heat and flames were too intense.
“Three other people, including myself, were trying our best -- it just was overpowering,” he said.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is helping investigators from Valley Regional Fire Authority determine the cause of the deadly blaze. The fire displaced 10 people and a couple were treated on scene for smoke injuries.
Even though a child died during the fire, Graham credits firefighters for doing what they could to save her.
“As soon as they came up, we were yelling, there’s a kid in there! They did what they could and did what they needed to do," he said.