Two people were reported dead in an apartment fire late Thursday night at 23rd and Madison.
Seattle Fire says a pet dog also died in the fire.
The blaze was reported in a third-floor unit after a 911 caller said they saw flames and smoke shooting from the building just after 11:30 PM, according to emergency radio updates.
Seattle Fire reports the fire took place in the Elizabeth James House, a 1968-built Community Roots Housing affordable apartment building at 109 23rd Ave E.
According to radio updates, both victims were found dead inside the burning unit as firefighters responded to extinguish the flames before they spread to the rest of the 60-unit building. Responding firefighters reported “hoarder conditions” inside the unit.
There were no reported additional injuries.
Seattle Fire will investigate the fire’s cause.
UPDATE: SFD has posted a brief on the deadly incident:
Last night at 11:39 p.m., the Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Alarm Center received 911 calls reporting flames coming through a window from a third-floor unit of an apartment building at the 100 block of 23rd Ave. E. The first firefighters on scene confirmed the fire burned through the third-floor window and was extending upward to the eaves of the roof. Crews from Engine 6 worked quickly to to get water on the fire from outside the building while firefighters from Ladder 1, 3 and 10 raised their aerial ladders to the roof of the building to check for extension. Crews from Engine 25 carried a hose line up the stairs and to the unit. Moderate amounts of smoke billowed from the apartment unit’s closed door and flowed into the hallway. Fortunately, protective fire doors prevented much of the smoke from moving past the immediate area. As firefighters entered the apartment they encountered furniture and personal items that blocked access to the living spaces. Forcing them to move items into the hallway. They were able to quickly knock down the fire and search for survivors. Sadly, they found a deceased adult man, woman and their dog in the living room.
UPDATE x2: According to the SPD report on the incident, the Fire Marshal has ruled the cause of the fire “undetermined” but likely accidental. There was no evidence of violence or an intentional set fire, according to police.
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How do hoarding conditions happen when property owners check units regularly?
Our building manager recently told us it’s difficult to do much because it’s now a protected class. I don’t know whether that is true. But we recently had yearly inspections and there’s someone in our building with a collecting issue.
It is not a protected class. Hoarding is a mental illness that is very difficult to treat. As soon as you force a clean out – which is hard to do both with the resident and within the legal system – people frequently start piling things in again immediately. I am deeply sorry these people & dog suffered the worst consequence. At least their neighbors were spared.
It’s not a ‘protected class’, but it is not legal to throw someone out because of hoarding. My next door neighbor and several others in my building are hoarders — one so bad you can barely open her door — and they’ve all passed inspection DOZENS of times.
The protected class must still follow building guidelines and can be given assistance if their disability interferes with that. Landlords and the city need to provide effective compassionate services to people with hoarding disorders that can create health and safety issues (per federal ADA laws)
Community roots is the management company and they have lots of locations but I know right now not every location has a property manager as they are low staff and trying to hire so they are backed up on a lot of stuff even maintance ect
They are low on integrity. I’ve rented from them over 5 years, and the last 3 have been utter hell and repeatedly dangerous for my child and I, and the public because their buildings are not up to Code, even though the City cashes those HUD checks quick. Seattle needs to understand that “treating everyone like crap” is still a violation of city, state, county, and federal housing laws.
My question is why/how did the unit not have smoke detectors and sprinklers that were working…
Seattle Fire Dept investigators are pretty thorough, they’ll figure that out (or did the tenants just remove the batteries from the smoke detectors? Newer buildings have hard-wired ones but not all older ones do).
People unplug, remove, or take batteries out of detectors almost as fast as you install them,
A smoke alarm beeped for 3 months in a community Roots housing multi family building with management ignoring tenant, social worker and doctor letters begging for investigation then a mother of a young child found the tenant dead when SFD and CRH and SHA and SDCI all failed to investigate *for months*!
The structure was built in 1969; it may just have building-wide alarms (smoke detectors) in the hallway, along with hallway sprinklers. Often, individual units have smoke detectors that only sound in the unit. Smoke has to get into the hallway to activate the building’s alarm system.
Sprinklers in the units? I’ve been woken in the middle of the night by a malfunctioning alarm before. I can unplug that and go back to sleep. I don’t want to think about getting hosed at 2 AM. I don’t have renter’s insurance, either. Any damage caused by it would have to be covered by the landlord, or come out of my pocket.
Sprinkler systems are significantly more robust than a hardware store smoke detector.
Also, I would take the chance of a random hosing at 2am over waking up to flames and suffocating smoke…
Indeed! Especially in multi family buildings and buildings where the City is treating seniors and people with disabilities like commodities rather than human beings.
Sprinklers don’t work that way…. In a typical apartment building each sprinkler head has a mechanical (not electronic) heat sensitive switch. It has to be exposed to temperatures over 155F to open. It means they can’t really malfunction as a system like the alarms. You can physically damage individual sprinkler heads if you hit them hard enough, but that doesn’t ‘spread’ – other sprinklers will still remain closed. Smoke and alarms can’t set them off either – only heat.
Sprinklers should be a must! CRH has a pattern of not even providing tenants instructions on how to use fire extinguishers. Their “inspections” are a joke (not funny / dangerous joke). It’s not a lack of money, it’s a lack of The City treating humans with human dignity
This is very very common in Community Roots 50 some odd buildings, including for seniors, people with disabilities and multi family housing. They get a free pass from The City because they are a For Profit City Owned Development Authority
Community Roots Housing is a City owned For Profit PDA. The fire department could be “hushed”. Several of their multi family buildings are not up to fire code, and receive federal, city, state, county and private funds. There are Lead based paint violations and “inspections” are often fabricated. There MUST be full unbiased investigation and transparency, but most media is paid off as Community Roots “Community Partners”. The people in this building need support and a voice!
I would like to add that having a disability is a protected class, and Community Roots is known to be very ablest and deny accomodations for people with disabilities (including hoarders). I would also ask the reporters to verify it was a “pet” dog and not a service animal.
Disability Accomodations for hoarders can include check ins by social workers and caregivers to assist with keeping the apartment safe. I am personal devastated by what I have witnessed in how The City and City Owned For Profit PDA Community Roots, and the federal funding distributers (SHA, Housing and Human Services, regional HUD office) and Seattle office of Civil Rights, SDCI etc treat vulnerable people in their buildings. CRH has a pattern and practice of showing no regard for their tenants, unless it’s in one of their media darling buildings, because they put profits above the people they are profitting off of. I urge SFD to Fully investigate this. More fires in CRH buildings are imminent and preventable!