Alex Sittings was sleeping in his second-floor Boise apartment Wednesday afternoon when he heard what he thought was someone knocking at my door. It turned out to be flames ripping through the apartment below.
I looked up and saw my porch on fire. I knew I couldnt go out the front door, Sittings said.
He put on a pair of pants and moved to the back of his apartment. Thats when he heard his front door shatter from the heat and saw smoke pour inside.
He kicked out a screen and yelled to some construction workers nearby to see whether they had a ladder. When they didnt, he went out a window, jumped onto a gutter and then jumped to the ground.
About an hour later, a shirtless Sittings sat cross-legged on the ground while he watched dozens of Boise firefighters put out hot spots in what was left of the fourplex. Three of the units were gutted, and there was an empty, burned shell of a building at 12th and River streets.
Investigators determined that the blaze was sparked by a cigarette that burned a sofa on the outside porch of a lower unit. The flames leaped to a wooden balcony and took off from there. A man in the apartment where the fire started escaped and was taken by paramedics to a hospital for treatment of minor burns to his arms.
Across the lawn from Sittings, Trevor Wilcken could only watch firefighters while dealing with the knowledge that all of his possessions had likely burned.
Wilcken said he left his apartment around 1:30 p.m. to pick up a friend at work and drove home to find that his home was burning.
... I have no idea what happened, Wilcken said. I just dont know what to say ...
The fire ignited just after 2:30 p.m. on the west end of the structure. Boise fire crews arrived at 2:34 to find the building actively burning, so they immediately called for more units. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to knock back most of the flames and prevent the fire from affecting other structures, but crews continued working throughout the afternoon to put out hot spots.
The initial report to Ada County dispatchers stated that people were trapped inside, but by the time fire crews arrived, everyone was out.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr