A fast response by firefighters limited damage from a Sunday kitchen fire, but officials say such near-disasters generally can be prevented by following one simple rule: don't leave food cooking unattended.
Residents from four units were displaced by the fire at a downtown apartment building, but the manager of the Town House Apartments praised firefighters for an "extraordinary" response that limited damage.
"More than 42 percent of all residential fires are caused by unattended cooking," said Fire Education Coordinator Kathy Barker. "This fire is just another reminder that most residential fires are preventable."
A witness called emergency dispatchers at 8:35 p.m., Sunday, to report black smoke coming from the 20-unit apartment building on the 400 block of Bellevue Way Southeast. In just over four minutes firefighters arrived to find heavy fire in a third-floor unit.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 20 minutes. Although the blaze gutted one unit and three sustained water damage, apartment manager Cheryl Hoggard said firefighters' speed and care prevented more damage or injuries.
The resident of that unit said he was cooking potatoes when he stepped away from the kitchen. When his smoke detector activated, the resident went back to the kitchen to find flames on the stove. After unsuccessful attempts to put the fire out, he evacuated his apartment.
Bellevue fire investigators confirmed the cause of the fire to be unattended cooking. One resident received minor injuries. The damage is estimated at $200,000.
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