Five dead in Redmond fire

Jan 1, 2011

Updated Jan. 1 at 8:54 p.m.

Authorities in Redmond say five people - four of them children - have been killed in an apartment fire early Saturday.

Police spokesman Officer Matt Peringer says a 32-year-old man died and a woman was taken to a hospital. The children, four boys, were aged 11 and younger, according to The Seattle Times. 

Residents of 12 apartments were evacuated and taken to temporary housing.

The Associated Press reports neighbors were awakened to screams and shouting just after 2:30 a.m. One of them was Jared Wilson:

Wilson said only about 30 seconds elapsed from the time he first heard shouting until his apartment was surrounded by heavy smoke and he was forced to flee. As he ran down the stairwell, he saw the woman, whose children he had often seen playing, screaming outside the building.

Wilson said he and another resident grabbed a fire extinguisher and the two tried to enter the smoke-filled apartment. "At that point, the whole place just went up" and they were forced away by the flames.

According to The Seattle Times, neighbors interviewed say the man and woman were husband and wife, and had moved to the Redmond from Colorado.  Neighbor Belinda Phelps says she was with the family as they celebrated the new year, leaving their apartment after midnight.

"Just a shock, a shock that it has come to this," Phelps said. (She)  said the oldest boy, age 11, attended Rose Hill Junior High School, and that other children ranged in age from 2 to 6, with at least one attending Benjamin Rush Elementary School.

A specific cause of the blaze could not be determined Saturday. According to the Associated Press, the building's age, dating from the early 1980's, did not require it to have sprinklers.    

(Police spokesman) Peringer said a cause hadn't been found before investigators secured the scene for the night. They planned to resume their work Sunday morning, he said.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived at the fire scene late Saturday morning. The two-alarm fire drew firefighters from Bellevue, Eastside Fire, Kirkland, Redmond and Woodinville.