by Andrew Engelson
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Dec. 23, a fire broke out in the Greentree Apartments in Skyway. Though firefighters from King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20), as well as units from Renton Regional Fire Authority, Tukwila Fire Department, and other units from across the region fought the three-alarm fire, the massive blaze left most of the apartment building damaged. Thankfully there were no fatalities, though KCFD20 reported that one resident was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
According to Eric Autry, public information officer with KCFD20, the fire left 24 adults and six children displaced from their homes just two days before Christmas. The children include four boys ages 6, 7, and 13 and one girl age 8. But providing some hope to the families, a community-led effort to assist the Greentree residents is underway and rapidly working to raise funds and find shelter for those displaced during the holiday season.
“It was a multi-generational mix of kids and adults impacted,” said Ryan Quigtar, executive director of the Renton Innovation Zone Partnership. “They lost everything.”
The American Red Cross initially provided emergency housing assistance to the families and the apartment complex did what it could to open vacant units to those affected. But for more long-term support, the Renton Innovation Zone Partnership, the Skyway Coalition, and KCFD20 have rapidly teamed up to provide assistance to the displaced families, many of whom were People of Color.
“The unfortunate thing about this fire,” said Autry, “is the fire got into the attic and spread over the top of the building. It only affected a few of the units with direct fire, but since it crossed over the top of the entire building, all of the units have been affected by smoke, some form of fire, or water damage.”
The Skyway Coalition partners have set up an online fund drive for the displaced Greentree residents. They ask that when filling out the form, you please add in the note field, “For residents impacted by the Greentree Apartment Fire.”
Donations of personal items (clothing, baby food, or diapers) — or most importantly, cash or checks (made out to Renton Regional Community Foundation, with the memo line “Skyway Fund — Greentree Fire”) — can be dropped off at King County Fire District 20 (12424 76th Avenue South, Seattle) from 2–8 p.m. today Dec. 23 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Dec. 24.
The fund drive is a combined effort of the Renton Regional Community Foundation in partnership with Renton School District, King County Department of Local Services, King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay, West Hill Community Association, Urban Family, Dare2b, and the Skyway Coalition.
“Whatever people can give will be greatly appreciated,” said Quigtar.
Andrew Engelson is a writer and editor who lives in the South End.
Featured image: Firefighters battle the blaze at Greentree Apartments in Skyway early Wednesday morning. (Photo courtesy of KCFD20)
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