Lynnwood firefighters were well aware of the dangers of the Lynnview apartment building that was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon.
Fire Marshal Leroy McNulty tells us firefighters had trained at that very location for at least 30 years.
“We have identified this building as a high-risk occupancy due to the building construction (all wood), age of the structure (built in 1969), water availability (no hydrants on the site), fire department access (a narrow steep driveway), the location of high tension electrical power (PUD wires directly north of the building) and the residential use of the building,” he said.
That training appears to have paid off. McNulty said they’re very fortunate no one was injured.
“Training is always helpful in a potentially lethal environment. When bad things happen, training can be the difference in survival, not only for the firefighters, but for the people we are there to protect. We managed to evacuate the building with no injuries to the residents or the firefighters. I can only imagine the chaos if this same fire were to occur at 2 a.m.”
Besides the lack of sprinklers and the building’s all-wood construction, McNulty has a theory as to why the fire spread so rapidly.
“The only explanation I have at this point is the occupant of the unit left the entry door open when they were looking for a fire extinguisher. We found three empty extinguishers and one of the neighbors indicated she called 9-1-1 while the occupant was attempting put out the fire. This could have delayed fire department notification.”
It’s unclear if the building will need to be demolished, but a structural engineer will need to assess the integrity of the building.
“The foundation appears to be damaged by the erosion caused by the extreme amount of water we used to extinguish the fire. Any modifications to the building will require fire sprinklers and better fire blocking. I would think it would be more efficient to build a new structure,” McNulty said.
A deep fryer is believed to be the cause of the fire, but that is still being confirmed. Damage is estimated at $3 million.