An 80-year-old Bellevue woman died early this morning, overcome by smoke and heat from a fire in her condominium. Bellevue fire crews found her body near the front door of her unit at the Hidden Creek Condominiums, on the 12700 block of Northeast Eighth Street. It appears she was trying to escape.
The fire started around 2:20 a.m. in a recliner chair in the living room, which apparently had an electrical heating pad or massage device on it. Fire investigators reported that there were no working smoke detectors within the unit. A smoke detector was found on a desk with the battery inserted backwards and another was lacking a battery altogether.
The building's automatic alarm, activated when smoke made it into the common hallway of the complex, notified emergency dispatches of the fire. Alarm bells were ringing throughout the building and residents were evacuating when firefighters arrived.
The fire was confined to just the one unit, one of 36 in the three-story building. All residents were allowed back into the building after fire crews finished up their work.
It is unknown whether the device on the recliner contributed to the cause of the fire, and the chair was destroyed, so reconstructing a specific cause may be impossible. However, there is no doubt that working smoke detectors would have improved the woman's chances of surviving the fire.
The fire department encourages you to confirm the presence of a working smoke detector in:
- areas providing access to sleeping areas;
- every bedroom; and
- every level of the dwelling.
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