Firefighters were sent at about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday to the fire at the Washington Square Apartments, 510 E. Washington Ave. The first crew saw heavy smoke coming from the back balcony of two apartments, 13 and 14, and sounded a second alarm, according to Deputy Fire Chief David Jones and details in a city press release.
“We were called a couple of hours ago for a structure fire. Upon arrival, we found heavy fire on the backside of the building in the area of apartments 13 and 14, the back of the balcony area,” Jones said.
A Boise Fire Department truck then responded, as did Ada County Paramedics. In all, 30 emergency personnel were on scene.
The fire was controlled by 1:25 p.m. The cause of the fire is still undetermined, Jones said.
No residents of the apartment complex were hurt, and a small dog was rescued from one apartment. But two apartments received heavy fire damage before the blaze was put out, and the whole building suffered smoke damage, Jones said.
“The crews were able to knock the fire down and pretty much contain the fire to apartments 13 and 14, but we still have heavy smoke damage to the entire building,” Jones said.
Nicole Sirak Irwin, regional CEO for the Red Cross of Idaho and Montana, said 25 people in 18 units were affected. The Red Cross opened a shelter for displaced residents but most found lodging with family, she said. Four with medical needs received hotel vouchers via the Boise Burnout Fund. The Red Cross helped one resident replaced dozens of medications lost in the fire, she said.
The Meridian firefighter’s injuries were minor, officials say. A floor on a second-story apartment gave way and the firefighter is being evaluated as a precaution.
Electrical and gas lines to the building are currently shut off. Jones said electrical lines were definitely damaged; investigators were less sure Wednesday afternoon about damage to gas lines.
Kathy Johnson, resident of apartment two, was cleaning when she received an unexpected knock at her door.
“I was busy and trying to straighten up when somebody knocked on my door and says, ‘There’s a fire. We have to get out.’ I looked around at first and was like ‘you’re kidding.’ So I got out and just see all this black smoke coming from the coming out of the ceiling,” Johnson said.
Mid-afternoon, residents of the apartments were still waiting outside to see when they would be let back in. Crews expect to be on scene for several more hours checking other apartments and mopping up.