Victims of Recent Skyway Fires In Need of Community Assistance

by Kelsey Hamlin

Tukwila, Renton, and Skyway firefighters doused two similarly situated residential fires Monday, both in Skyway. Some residents of each face hardship, but there is at least one way to help.

The American Red Cross Northwest said they would assist a family of four, a mom and three children, affected by the fire on 76th Avenue South. The family that lived above the apartment that caught on fire, and the resident of that unit itself, are now displaced. Clothing sat too close to a baseboard heater in the primary unit, causing the fire.

Typically, the American Red Cross can provide temporary housing, clothing, and essential needs until the affected can find housing. Colin Downey, their northwest regional communications director, said they cannot specify what help victims are getting for confidentiality reasons. Donations cannot be given for individual families but they can be given regionally under the Northwest Red Cross Disaster Relief Donations. King County has kept the department particularly busy over the past week as fires have spiked.

“We don’t recommend direct donations to folks because typically people are overwhelmed or not getting what they really need,” said Eric Autry of the Skyway Fire Department, or King County Fire District (KCFD) 20. “Look toward organizations like American Red Cross who do respond to fires all over the US and in Skyway.”

There were no injuries from this call. The apartment as a whole will continue operating. As residents evacuated the building in freezing temperatures that morning, a King County Metro bus arrived on scene to keep residents warm. There were no injuries to residents or firefighters.

“That fire in that apartment could’ve been devastating,” Autry said. “I don’t say this all the time, but the guys who showed up on the first arriving engine company [KCFD20] were able to stop that fire to a single room in that apartment complex which saved lives, there’s no doubt about it.”

Autry said all of the firefighters who arrived on scene — from Renton, Skyway, and Tukwila departments, who usually work together — were thoroughly impressed. Because the KCFD20 covers a small 2.5 square miles that make up the entirety of Skyway, they rely on neighboring jurisdictions to help during larger incidents.

The departments also faced a second Skyway fire Monday on South 135th Street. This one was a house fire but, again, heat-related. Burning embers had escaped the home’s fireplace, causing the flames. One resident, the only one who lived there, received treatment and was transported to Valley Medical Center. Now, the house sits roofless, according to Autry, but the final disposition of the resident about their living situation is unknown.

As the weather routinely touches freezing temperatures this year, remember to keep all items a safe distance from heaters, surround fireplaces with fire screens, and keep wood stove doors closed.

Donations can be made online and by contacting the Northwest Red Cross at (206) 726-3534

Kelsey Hamlin is a freelance reporter with various Seattle publications. She graduated with interdisciplinary Honors, a B.A. in journalism and a minor in Law, Societies & Justice from the University of Washington. Hamlin served as President and VP for the UW’s Society of Professional Journalists over the past two years. Find her on Twitter @ItsKelseyHamlin or see more of her articles on her website.

Featured image courtesy of King County Fire District 20

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