Fire destroys several WSU apartments - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fire destroys several WSU apartments

PULLMAN, Wash. - An early morning fire Saturday caused around $500,000 damage to a 12-unit Washington State University apartment complex with fire officials crediting the residents on doing a great job of evacuating the complex and preventing any injuries.

Pullman firefighters were called at 4:46 a.m. to a report of a fully-engulfed apartment fire in the Chief Joseph Village Apartment complex at 2025 NE Terre View. The first call came by cell phone from a resident and the complex alarm station was not activated until six minutes later.

As crews arrived, flames were coming from unit D-5 and before hitting the fire with water, firefighters and WSU Police officers immediately made sure that all the student residents were safely evacuated. Firefighters gave credit to the residents for alerting other occupants of the fire and by pulling the alarm station which activated alarm bells in the complex.

Fire investigator Rich Dragoo said residents of the D-5 unit told him that the fire started around the kitchen stove area and they said that the smoke detector in the apartment did not go off. They said they were awakened by something else, perhaps some noise.

Officer Rich Dragoo determined that the cause of was accidental.  Officer Dragoo said that the fire started in the kitchen and after a full day of investigation ruled that the fire was started by accident.

 Dragoo said that since WSU owns the apartment buildings, the university will release the specifics of the investigation next week.

The Chief Joseph apartment units were built in the early 1970's and Dragoo said while there was firewall between apartment units, there was no draft stop separating units in the attic. Firefighters were able to keep the major fire damage confined to D-5 but Dragoo estimated that two apartment units were totally destroyed, three others sustained water damage, and the other six had smoke damage.

Operations Chief Mike Heston said once firefighters determined that everyone was out of the three-story complex, firefighters went into a defense maneuver to keep the fire from spreading. He said firefighters were aided by the lack of wind which allowed the flames to come right out of the roof, rather than travel down the attic area and then spread to other units.

WSU administrators, including President Elson S. Floyd, Vice President Michael Tate, Director of Residence Life, Eleanor Finger, and other housing officials were on the fire scene to support the students. WSU Housing office was making arrangements for the students in the 12-unit complex to be housed temporarily in other university facilities. The Whitman County branch of the American Red Cross was also on the scene to help with housing. Crews from WSU Facilities Operations also responded to aid in the effort.

In addition to Pullman, firefighters from Whitman County Rural District 12 aided the firefighting efforts. The Moscow Fire Department responded to fill the air tanks for the firefighters.

The university and Pullman fire officials were scheduled to meet with the affected student residents at noon Saturday to answer their questions and to make housing, dining and clothing arrangements for the affected students.

Pullman Fire Dept.
(Written by Glenn Johnson, PFD/PIO)

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