'The back part of the apartment was all engulfed'

'The back part of the apartment was all engulfed'

MILWAUKIE, Ore. - Witnesses said a propane tank exploded at a Milwaukie apartment complex during a two-alarm fire early Wednesday morning.

No one was seriously hurt. The Red Cross said the fire put 18 people out of their homes.

Clackamas county firefighters responded to multiple reports of an apartment fire at the Westview Villa Apartment Complex on Westview Avenue in Milwaukie just after 1 a.m.

Firefighters said working smoke detectors woke up many of the residents during the night, likely saving their lives.

Josh Salazar, who lived in the unit where the fire was most intense, was treated briefly for smoke inhalation but later returned to the scene and spoke with KATU News.

"The heat was pushing up the stairs and I got a good suck-in of it," said Salazar. "The back part of the apartment was all engulfed."

Salazar said he tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out and then carried his grandmother down the stairs to escape as the fire grew.

"She was disoriented so we were just trying to get her out as fast as possible."

He said he lost a number of irreplaceable mementos, including family photos and his wedding ring, which he takes off at night. Salazar, along with his brother, grandmother and new wife were able to escape.

The central apartment unit in the complex was heavily damaged and adjacent units were also damaged. Firefighters said it took about an hour to put out the flames.

It's unclear what caused the fire. The Red Cross is assisting those displaced by the fire.

No damage estimate has been released.