August 17, 2007

West seattle fire

1:38 AM 8/17/2007

the fire....

I was walking home from the matador where I had just left Jenny, mike, erika, and corey her

boyfriend. Ryan had left 20 min prior. We finished our drinks and food and left. jenny

offered me a ride but I declined saying that I wanted to 'walk off the booze' which wasn't

very much but I enjoy the walk home. I'm walking home and I come to this new construction

that's been going on for a while. I notice a flame coming out the top, my first impression

is that it's just smoke coming out of a chimney, the next thought I'm having is that it's

fire. instantly I'm on the phone to 911. I drop my backpack and start running around the

buildings that are next to the place that's on fire. within minutes I'm feeling the heat.

it's so intense that I can barely stand it. the hair on my arms and legs is burnging and I

can feel my flesh start to cook. I dont care. all I can think about is the people who might

still be trapped in the buildings surrounding the one on fire. By this time only 5 min after

noticing the first lick of flame this entire 3 story building is on fire and the buildings

next to it are also on fire. I run around to every window and door I can find and start

breaking banging, knocking, kicking down doors to find anyone who might still be sleeping. I

wake a few people up and they are very disturbed. There was a lady laying in bed and a guy,

I wasn't really paying attention I was simply focused on getting EVERYONE that I could find


I ran around the back of the building only to find the flames unbearable, so i ran next

door, people still aren't around and I can still only barely hear the firetrucks in the

background (response time... 3 min). I run to the top floor of this apartment building and

kick the door in and run in screaming that the building is on fire and that everyone needs

to evacuate. Then I run downstairs and kick in another door only to find the entire

apartment empty. By this time I can barely walk out the door I've just entered, the flames

(which are nearly 20ft away are literally melting the windows and charring the wood of the

handrails i'm holding onto) by this time I walk away from the flame and I realize the

firemen are here just then I get smacked in the face by a VERY powerful blast of water which

was shot from the street over the building and straight onto me. I'm drenched. hairless and

PUMPED. I continue to run around the whole block which at the time looked very surreal. The

sky and surrounding air was almost pitch black with smoke and the embers from the fire were

floating through the air like a million glowing snowflakes. Falling on my face neck and arms

burning. I didn't care. all I could think about was the people who couldn't make it out.

Right about this time, I noticed a man who ran up to me and asked if I had seen his wife. I

told him I hadn't and asked what she looked like. He gave me a descrip and I ran right back

into the blazed area to look for her, wearing only shorts and sandals and dripping from head

to toe. I could see his panic, the fear in his eyes. I felt it so suddenly and strongly I

knew I had to help him find his wife. I went back to every apartment (that wasn't already

completely engulfed and called for anyone). I looked and looked for 10 min I looked, seeing

him occasionaly to ask if he'd found her... the last time I asked he gave me a sad look as

though to say she was gone. I can't help but think that if I had tried harder, not worried

so much about the fire and more about helping this man find his wife she would have made it

out. I couldn't find her and neither could he. I kept looking, running around helping

neighbors douse their houses with water so they woudln't catch on fire. literally it was

raining red-hot embers for a block radius. when I had done all I could and I was sure and

the firemen were sure everyone was out of the building I finally decided to go home. I was

walking on the other side of the street at least 100ft away from the building that was on

fire and I could feel the flames. I could feel them start to singe my hair, and to think I

was only a few feet away from these flames only a few minutes ago. The water which I had

recently been doused with was actually steaming off of my skin and clothes. I coudln't

believe it.

That's when I started to cry. I couldn't believe that this had just happened to me. I

couldn't believe that I coudln't find this guys wife. I felt so helpless. I felt like there

was nothing I could do. nothing I could do. So I called my mom. of course what else would I


All I know is that I was the first to call, the first to help people, and the first to

leave. I wish I could have stayed around longer but the firemen told me to leave. I didn't

want to be a burden on the EMTs just because of a little smoke inhalation. I'm still

coughing, I can't get it under control. plus my body is covered in little burns and alot of

my hair is gone. well my head hair is fine, but my right eyebrow is almost gone and my

goatee is burned alot. i'm home now, writing this only 45min after.

I'm ok. I just thought the story of the west seattle fire should be told.

1 comment:

WS said...

Garrett -- we will e-mail you too at the address you left on our site -- can we use one or two of your photos (we will credit you and also link them back to you)?