Nine people were displaced after a fire swept through an apartment building on Northwest Atalanta Way in Oak Harbor on Sunday morning.
Firefighters responded to the blaze at 8:35 a.m. after reports that a tree was on fire followed by more calls that flames were coming from a three-story apartment unit and spreading, according to a press release from the Oak Harbor Fire Department. Three out of the eight units along with the attic were involved in the conflagration, and a wall on an adjacent apartment complex was damaged from the radiant heat.
Oak Harbor Fire Chief Ray Merrill said people from nearby homes helped their neighbors leave their burning apartments before firefighters arrived. One man suffered burns to his hands and face, smoke inhalation and cuts on his legs. Paramedics took him to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center.
The Red Cross and the Navy ombudsman are assisting the victims. Merrill said two of the apartments were “salvageable.” About half of those affected were Navy members.
Oak Harbor firefighters called for crews from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Navy’s firefighting team to help extinguish the fire. It took approximately 24 firefighters one and a half hours to get the fire under control.
“It had all of us on our toes in case the wind wanted to blow the fire our direction,” said Rebecca Powers, who lives in one of the buildings next door.
Oak Harbor and North Whidbey firefighters also responded to a two-acre brush fire at the corner of Southwest 24th Avenue and Highway 20 while their colleagues fought the apartment fire. It burned brush, trees and scrub.
The causes of both fires are under investigation, Merrill said.