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August 5, 2011     West Seattle Herald
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August 5, 2011
 

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West Sea 57*2******************ALL FOR ADC 980 White Ce _.- Ii!!IB!!!L!! SMALL TOWN PAPERS "LJ 217 W CO'I'A 5T 6 7 SHELTON, WA 98584-2263 Friday, Au! ust 5, 2011 Vol. 93 No. 31 - ::' " - :i  : : i . , - -" ....  SteveS.ay i CROWDED FIELD. Alki Beach went Hawaiian July 30 when over 200 outrigger canoe paddlers ipated in thrcS; o:beginning near the Alki bath' house, rounding B island and returning. Pictured is the beginng of the first race. For the storj and more p kotos, see p o.g5. s / Apartment fire survivors lost everything-, Survivors 'thank God there,' and -I was iooking at her to rescu6 a wheelchair-bound each moment' they escaped unharmed ByTy Swenson Husband and wife Edward and Margaret Smith stood side by side, surveying the unrecog- nizable charred remains of what they once called home on Tues- day, July 26 in South Park. The torched husks of their two vehi- cles sat in the forefront of the Lighthouse Apartment complex that was devastated by a multiple- alarm fire two days prior. It took 60 firefighters from 12 different units to put the fire out and all 41 tenants escaped with their lives, although two were taken to Harborview Medical Center for non-life threatening burns. People as far as Tacoma reported seeing the smoke as the 19-unit apartment blazed. The fire absolutely destroyed vehicles near the building, melted the rear light covers and bumpers of vehicles parked at least 70 feet away and gutted every apartment unit, now a burnt approximation of their original form. The Smiths could see directly into their lower level apartment, all of their furniture and belong- ings reduced to ash. "We figured we were in a safe house and nothing like that would happen," Edward said as he inspected the devastation. Smoke and then panic "If it wasn't for her, I would have been burned up." The Smiths were spending time with Edward's sister Deljuan Gib- son on Sunday afternoon when smoke started billowing from a second-story unit, one story above the Smith's. Deljuan had stepped outside to grab lunch from McDonald's when she saw Edward Smith and his sister Deljuan Gibson stand before the remains of the Lighthouse Apartments in South Park on July 26. The brother and sister, along with Edward's wife Margaret, were all at the apartment when the fire broke out on July 24. The Smiths lost most of their belongings, including their two vehicles. See additional photos on page 20. the smoke and heard a fire alarm. "And this man was standing on the sidewalk hollering, 'Get out, get out now!'" Deljuan said. "And then he said, 'Fire!'" "He was just a guy off the street," Margaret said. "You could hear his voice like he was on a megaphone, he was scream- ing and you could hear him all through the apartments and every- one came bailing out." Deljuan yelled to her sister-in- law to get moving. "She just happened to go to McDonald's," Margaret said of Deljuan. "If she wouldn't have gone to McDonald's I would have been in there. I had seconds to get out of the building before it burned me. If it wasn't for her, I would have been burned up." The women grabbed their purs- es and Margaret grabbed her keys in hopes of moving her car. They rushed to the safety of the park- ing lot. Meanwhile, Edward said he ran up to the second Story unit where a thick, dark smoke was pouring out. He saw fire and smoke in the kitchen and living room. "I saw a small fire coming out of what looked like a light socket," he said (fire investigators are still in the process of determining the fire's cause.) Edward grabbed a fire extin- guisher from the porch and tried to attack the blaze, but it was empty. He said a man emerged from the unit. "He was kind of undressed and I told him he better get some pants and he darted back in there." Edward searched the porch for another fire extinguisher, could not find one and ran back to the burning unit to make sure the ma.n had gotten out. "My sister kept telling me, 'Come down, come down from and telling her 'There is'a man in there,'" Edward said. "And somehow he shot out of there and I didn't see him and I was calling for him and trying to look under the smoke." After hearing no response, Edward bolted to the parking lot to join his wife and sister (the man had already made it out). "And in a matter of minutes a big great ball of fire extended all the way across the apartment," Deljuan said. "I ran to go try to get my car but I couldn't," Margaret said. "It was so hot by the time I got back the rite had spread all the way down the hallway and it was like an inferno. My arm was burning, fire was falling all around me and my husband was hollering, 'Run, run Margaret run!'" Firefighters had arrived on the scene by this time and were able man, the last remaining tenant in'the building, according to Edward. Margaret, Edward and Deljuan ran south on Des Moines Memo- rial Drive until they 0t!ld haridle the intense heat emanating from the blaze, nearly a half block down the road. At flaat point the Smiths could only sand arid watch as their two vehicles and apartment were destroyed. The Aftermath The Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross disaster relief squad came in after the fire to provide housing for those in need, some finding rest and food at Peace Lutheran Church in West Seattle. Margaret and Edward have been staying with Deljuan and Edward said their future is uncertain. : - See FIBE page 20 At Prudential Northwest Realty, Every Challenge is an Opportunity. Bring Us YOUR Challenge- We Can Handle It 206-932-4500 ,, SeaTownRealEstate.com 00,00Prudential j Northwest Realty o=,,,, 4700 42nd S.W., Ste. 600 .f