East Vancouver

Crews investigating 3-alarm fire at Vancouver apartment complex

Crews investigating 3-alarm fire at Vancouver apartment complex »Play Video
Flames and smoke billow from the Lake Place Apartments Tuesday evening as crews battle a 3-alarm fire. (KATU Viewer photo)

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Investigators on Wednesday morning were working to determine the cause of  a three-alarm fire at an apartment complex at 5264 N.E. 121st Avenue Tuesday evening.

Huge flames shot out of the roof of several units at the Lake Place Apartments.

Crews arrived on the scene at about 8 p.m. and were still there as of 11 p.m.

According to the Vancouver Fire Department, everyone got out safely. Three buildings were evacuated, and nine apartments were destroyed.

Firefighters are investigating what started the fire, but ruled out fireworks. The fire appeared to have started on a patio on either the second or third floor.

Mark Filidei lives in a different building in the complex, and arrived home mid-blaze.

"The lady on the top floor said her AC kicked on and a bunch of smoke came billowing in," he said. "After that she took off and went outside and everything was on fire."

In addition to the Vancouver Fire Department, units from the Portland Fire Bureau also responded.

Lya Reyes, who shot the embedded video below, got out fast and started recording, because she couldn't believe what she was seeing.
 
Another neighbor, who lives in the building, said the flames and smoke were pouring out of a third-floor balcony above her and looked like the flames were coming from a deck where there was a barbecue grill.

One neighbor said her cat was still inside one of the units and firefighters told her there wasn't time to get her out. But she hopes she's OK and hiding under the bed.

Filidei said his first instinct was that fireworks were to blame.

"When  I saw the firetrucks coming down here I just told myself, I was like man I hope my place isn’t on fire from fireworks," he said.

The American Red Cross is responding to help families displaced by the fire.

KATU News reporter Emily Sinovic contributed to this report.