Like many Treasure Valley residents, tenants at the Edgewater Apartments in Boise’s Lake Harbor neighborhood heard a barrage of fireworks Tuesday night but felt safe from the fallout.
Then, shortly after 2:30 a.m., smoke alarms blared. Neighbors ran up the stairs, banging on doors. Get out, they said. There’s a fire.
The culprit was fireworks — possibly legal, possibly not — that landed on the second-floor balcony, said Char Jackson, spokeswoman for the Boise Fire Department. Flames spread to the unit above, gutting the third-floor apartment. The first-floor unit directly below suffered severe water damage from the firefighting effort.
There were no casualties, human or otherwise. But three families lost their homes, and two others were briefly displaced, Jackson said. One resident was treated on-scene for a “breathing issue,” she said.
The three families will be moved into apartments elsewhere in the sprawling Edgewater complex on North Lakeharbor Lane off State Street, she said. The residents in the other two damaged units, at the back of the building, are expected to return to their homes soon.
“I can’t go back for two days,” said Amanda Secola, who lives with her 5-year-old daughter and Reggie, a retriever, in a unit kitty-corner to the apartment where the fire began. Secola’s apartment, largely unscathed, was without power Wednesday morning, she said.
“This is incredible,” Secola said, as she stood by a large mound of smoke-scented rubble in front of the hardest-hit units. A lone boot, numerous particle masks and slabs of sheetrock were joined by a couch and other items that firefighters had removed, smoldering, out of the apartments.
“We’re so lucky everyone’s OK,” she said.
By midmorning, the last Boise fire truck had departed, and dazed-looking residents gathered to look at the rubble, compare notes and inventory the pets — numerous dogs and two chinchillas — that live in the building.
All were accounted for, and all were OK. One small dog named Winston was hiding in a closet but was rescued. Firefighters carried another dog, wrapped in a blanket, down a ladder from the third floor, Secola said.
Residents Kaitlin Erwin and Cricket Doty carried Red Cross blankets as they prepared to load up a car and head for a motel. The regional Red Cross and the Boise Fire Department Burnout Fund are helping the displaced residents. Representatives of the apartment complex walked tenants into their homes to assess the damage and estimate how long they would have to wait to return.
Secola said she heard fireworks all night, but she thought they were centered in empty lots nearby, not in the complex’s parking lot. After the fire, she heard that some children had been dispersed from another area and had started setting off fireworks near the building.
Sixteen crews from Boise and Eagle fire departments responded, as did Boise police and Ada County paramedics.
Jackson said investigators are looking for a group of young teens. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS.
The blaze, reported at 2:38 a.m., brought a devastating end to an unusually quiet night for Boise fire crews alert for Fourth of July fireworks-caused blazes, Jackson said. Boise firefighters responded to 13 fires, at least four linked to fireworks, on July 4 and early July 5. Most were quickly resolved and caused little damage, she said.
Fireworks-related fires were few throughout Ada County, a dispatch supervisor said, citing a few small grass fires that were quickly extinguished.
Last year during the run-up to the Fourth of July, a roman candle ignited the massive Table Rock Fire that destroyed a home and burned 2,500 acres in the Foothills.
Edgewater representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447. Deputy Editor Jason Lantz contributed.