TUKWILA, Wash. - After just over 24 hours since the fire at the Maple Crest Apartments in Tukwila first sparked, firefighters continue in their attempt to contain the flames.
The deadly fire started Tuesday morning, killing two adults and one infant.
All 32 units of the apartment complex were destroyed, and due to concerns over soil erosion, the fire crew is trickling water onto any hotspots.
Firefighters believe they could be on the scene through the rest of Wednesday and perhaps even longer if necessary. So far with the trickle approach, officials believe the fire could be out by Wednesday evening.
Crews have been challenged trying to hose down the stubborn fire, while also avoiding using too much water that might cause the building to tumble down the hillside.
Neighbors are still reeling over the tragedy.
"I’ve lived here 15 years now and I’ve seen a lot of stuff and this is quite possibly the worst tragedy I think I’ve seen," said apartment neighbor Ross Helliwell.
Authorities have not yet released the identities of the people who were found dead inside the building. Fire officials say all three, including a young child, were all found inside the same unit.
"It spread rapidly, very rapidly," said Tukwila Fire Chief Jay Wittwer. "We only had access to the front side of the building."
According to the fire chief, the alarms at the building were in good working order, but the structure was so dated that sprinklers were not required when it was initially constructed.
Fire officials said this tragedy is a reminder for everyone to devise an escape plan and practice it monthly at home.
While an investigation is underway to pinpoint the origin of the fire, firefighters expressed the importance that neighbors keep in mind what materials are stored along in their home’s outer walls that could contribute to a fire spread.
"I would put a warning out to everyone that you watch your fire load around your buildings," said Wittwer. "I’m not involved in this investigation, but I do encourage everyone to not have large fire loads around your building."
According to Wittwer, everyone who lived at the apartment has been or should be placed into stable housing elsewhere in the city. As soon as it is safe, he believes everyone may be able to return to retrieve their vehicles by Wednesday evening.
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