Upon arrival firefighters reported smoke showing from the attic space, indicating a possible attic fire. As crews rounded the street from Beech St. to 16th they could see the face of an adult female calmly starring out the window. She was immediately adjacent to the unit on fire, with a crowd of frantic citizens pounding on the door trying to encourage her to exit the building. Fire crews immediately directed their effort to evacuate the occupant, using forcible entry to open her door and escort her across the street to an area of safety.
The six-plex building was initially built as a single family home, and over the years had been remodeled extensively, creating a non-typical layout and many confined spaces, which made locating and accessing the fire difficult. Firefighters worked tirelessly from two apartment units, opening "Knee walls" and pulling ceiling, which were a combination of new and old construction including shiplap and sheetrock.
Firefighters declared the fire under control after approximately 45 minutes of suppression efforts. The primary damage occurred to unit #104, where the fire originated. A second apartment unit (the unit that firefighters had to forcibly evacuate) suffered damage to the upstairs area when the fire burned under the floor and in the shared wall-space.
Fire investigators determined that the fire started in the clothes dryer vent centrally located in the downstairs of apartment #104 and spread upstairs and into the attic through a vertical soffit. Two units were determined uninhabitable due to the damage from the smoke and fire. There are no damage estimates at this time.
Red Cross was called to the scene to provide assistance for the displaced families and Servepro of Longview was assisting with smoke and water damage and other post fire assistance. In total, 21 firefighters from Longview and C2FR were called to control the fire.
Clothes dryers cause an estimated 20,000 fires per year in the United States. Longview Fire recommends cleaning your lint screen after every use, cleaning your dryer vent and exterior vent annually, and utilizing aluminum, metal, or metallic fire rated vent ducting only.