Puget Sound Fire Chief Matt Morris.

By Jack Mayne

Puget Sound Fire Chief Matt Morris gave the Council a perspective of the Hanover Apartments fire on Saturday night, July 10, in the 3200 block of S. 192nd Street in SeaTac. The blaze displaced around 85 residents.

Four people – including an infant – have been reported injured by the blaze, with two in critical condition, and two in serious condition, but appear to be doing well, Morris said.

Cause of the fire has not yet publicly announced, but SeaTac City Councilmember Pam Fernald said in a Facebook post that it was arson.

Person arrested as suspected arson
“The fire was arson and the person has been arrested for arson and booked into the King County Jail,” said Fernald earlier. “He was a resident at the complex. The community may want to follow this and let the judge know this person should not be released back into the community.”

At the Tuesday Council meeting, Fire Chief Morris said he wanted to share “some perspective on this incident … a large, major incident to occur in South King County and our municipality of SeaTac, a three alarm incident” that brings to SeaTac a lot of resources from multiple agencies all over south King County to work together flawlessly.”

He called the residents “heroic in the efforts they made to take care of themselves and there are neighbors that should be commended.

Brave acts
“There were a lot of really brave acts among those folks to take care of themselves,” said Chief Morris, noting how well agencies worked together and particularly such a complex situation that did not have a single injury “is something to be noted, for sure.” All survivors are doing well, he said.

The fire is still under investigation so not all information known can be shared publicly at this time, Morris said.

Deputy Chief Brian Carson of Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority told the SeaTac Council said the flames spread quickly after the first units were dispatched at 11.25 p.m. and 39 seconds. First arriving of the six unites arriving reported “flames spreading to multiple units and people jumping from balconies.” Other units were soon added, Carson said, and a second alarm was declared within 3 minutes, 45 seconds.

So much fire, so many lives to save
“There is so much fire and there are so many lives to be saved, (the officer in charge) is having to make so many decisions, he sends the second duty fire chief, the ladder truck and his third new engine all to that back side, that Silver Dollar side, because he knows that is where people are fleeing their balconies looking to be rescued.”

He said by the 3-minute, 40-second mark, “the fire has reached the roofline, so it has already spread up all three floors, engulfing the center units, in fact the security camera at this point has switched to daytime mode.”

Knowing the building, the officer in charge asked for a second alarm.

Survivors cared for
At the Tuesday Council meeting, City Manager Carl Cole said he has been told by staff that “no one is without a roof over their head, they have received food boxes, Safeway cards, bus tickets and actual donation checks from a couple of GoFundMe groups.” He added that if anyone from the fire is in need, the city has resources to assist. Carson said the fire department is working to assist residents of the apartment to retreive belongings whenever possible.