An elderly woman died after being hospitalized for smoke inhalation following a three-alarm fire at an apartment complex in Everett on Thursday night.
According to Steve Goforth, Assistant Fire Marshall for the Everett Fire Department, the fire broke out in the Colby Square Apartments in the 2200 block of Colby Avenue just after 10 p.m. Firefighters believe the fire started on the second floor.
About 15 to 20 people live in the apartments, according to a man who worked at the building. Goforth says 14 units in the complex were damaged by smoke or water.
Police on scene performed a search of the building and rescued the elderly woman from one of the rooms. She was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.
Another person was transported to the hospital after jumping from the second floor to escape the flames. Police on scene reported others were jumping from the balcony to escape the blaze, Goforth said.
Taylor White was across the street when the fire started. She said she heard a loud boom and saw bursts of flames coming from the middle of the building.
"It was this giant ball of fire, and it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger," White said.
White said she and other witnesses helped people get their belongings and pets out of the apartments before the fire consumed the building.
"People were jumping off the balconies, throwing their animals and dogs and cats, so I ran across the street to the corner and helped people toss whatever they needed to toss at me," she said.
Before he saw any flames, tenant Gary Nelson heard what sounded like explosions and then yelling.
“They came running, banging on my outside door saying you have to get out now, and I didn't have anything with me,” he said.
Nelson needs a cane to walk after a recent car accident, but with fire racing towards his apartment he had to try and get away without it.
“It was hard walking without it," he said. "I was literally collapsing with all the pains I was suffering with."
As fire consumed the only stairway in the building, some neighbors had to jump from the second level. Nelson huddled with his upstairs neighbor across the street.
“I felt really bad for her, so I gave her my slippers, what I was wearing," he said. "She didn't have anything. She lost everything."
Red Cross responded to the scene to help assist the displaced residents.
No firefighters or police officers were injured while battling the blaze.