Families flee as fire erupts at Lakewood four-plex; hero saves woman 'on fire'

LAKEWOOD -- Reports of harrowing moments and stunning rescues emerged following a large fire that ripped through a four-plex apartment building Tuesday morning in Lakewood.

One woman suffered burns and a man suffered a back injury when families were forced to evacuate their homes at the apartment building in the 7500 block of Cody Street in Lakewood.

Officials said the fire started on the building's ground level, but quickly moved upstairs and blocked the exit for multiple units. One family of four including two small children jumped from the second floor when flames pushed at their unit, officials said. A neighbor on the ground floor helped catch the small children, officials said.

As the fire exploded, neighbor Michael Jones ran to the backside of the apartment building. There, he found one resident standing on her balcony as flames raced toward her. Jones told Q13 FOX News he grabbed a some wire cutters to free a ladder tied to a nearby fence. He propped the ladder against the woman's railing to rescue her, but she was already injured, Jones said.

"She was already on fire, it was too late," James said. "Her hair is on fire, she's climbing down the ladder and her arms are all burnt."

Jones said the woman fell off the ladder and into his arms. She was taken to a local hospital with burns.

Another woman who jumped out of a second-story window was taken to the hospital with back pain.

No one else was injured, West Pierce Fire Officials said.

Fire crews put out the fire, but all units are considered a complete loss.

West Pierce Fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.