TUKWILA, Wash. — The King County Medical Examiner has identified the three people who were killed when a fire broke out at a Tukwila apartment building.
According to fire officials, the three victims at Maple Crest Apartments were all found in the same ground-floor apartment.
The coroner identified the victims as 22-year-old Alixzandra Chalcraft, 3-year-old Elliott Chalcraft and 41-year-old Roberto Sellem.
The medical examiner’s office said Sellem and Elliott died from “toxic asphyxia due to inhalation of products of combustion” while Alixzandra Chalcraft died from “inhalation of toxic products of combustion and thermal injury.”
Investigators haven't said what caused the fire, which started shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 17.
Fire official said the apartment complex did not have fire sprinklers due to the building being established in the early 60s before building codes required sprinklers to be installed.
But when the building codes were updated, the building was not. Tukwila Fire Chief Jay Wittwere said costs play a big factor in why older buildings like Maple Crest don’t have sprinkler systems in place.
“It is very, very expensive to place and have retrofit done to an existing building,” Wittwer said. “So that changes the conditions of affordable housing on a property like this.”
Despite the costs, the need for a sprinkler system was clear last Tuesday as the fire ripped through the apartment complex. Fire crews battled 50-foot flames as best they could when they arrived at Maple Crest, but the complex was destroyed in the end.
A sprinkler system could’ve helped, Wittwer said.
“Our people that responded to this call did the absolute best work they could do to evacuate the people out of the building, three people were not able to,” Wittwer said. “Had there been sprinklers in this building, we have seen across the nation that with buildings that do have sprinklers, we have a different outcome.”