A fire on the roof of a building requiring the immediate response from the Valley Regional Fire Authority and firefighters.

Residents rescued from windows, roof of three-alarm Max House Apartment fire in Auburn

Approximately 30 residents from fifteen apartment units are displaced after a fire severely damaged their homes in the early morning hours of July 24. Seven businesses also sustained damage and are currently closed.

The first call to 9-1-1 came from a resident of the nearby Lincoln apartments who smelled smoke at approximately 1:30 a.m. As VRFA engine crew 331 arrived to investigate, a person living in the Max House Apartments, located at 115 East Main Street, called 9-1-1 to report flames from above their unit. The crew confirmed the fire at Max House Apartments and upgraded the initial smoke investigation to a commercial fire response bringing in additional resources.

The fire grew quickly and began to block exit pathways. Residents called 9-1-1 to report they were unable to escape. One team of firefighters knocked the flames down in the exit stairwell and hallway, at times using their own bodies to shield escaping residents from the intense heat. At the same time, another VRFA team used ground ladders to reach apartment windows and evacuate two who were trapped. Additionally, a man and woman jumped to the roof of the nearby Auburn Avenue Theater and were safely rescued.

Firefighters also rescued two pets. A bearded dragon named “Mrs. Puff” and “King Richard,” the rabbit, were located and reunited with their owners.  The rabbit was extremely lucky, elevated above a foot of water and protected from the ceiling collapse by a heavy box and piece of sheetrock.

Once the rescues were completed and the building searched, firefighters backed out and began dousing the fire from the exterior. Fire conditions and the instability of the structure made it unsafe to continue working inside. The size of the building, growth of the fire, and threat to nearby structures required a three-alarm response. The VRFA received assistance from Puget Sound Fire and Rescue, South King Fire and Rescue, Renton Regional Fire Authority, Mountain View Fire and Rescue, King County Medic One, and Zone 3 Rehabilitation. Three ladder trucks applied approximately 3,000 gallons of water per minute to extinguish the flames.

Thankfully, there were no injuries to residents or firefighters. The cause of the fire is under investigation.