A fire just before 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Edmonds Highlands apartments has claimed the life of a 40-year-old Edmonds man.
The fire damaged at least four units of the three-story, 12-unit building at the 120-unit complex at 23326 Edmonds Way.
The fire was reported at 4:51 p.m., said Leslie Hynes with Snohomish County Fire District 1, which serves Edmonds. Flames were visible upon arrival, she said.
Firefighters located the victim in his second-floor apartment as they searched the building. A blackened hole just above a sign identified the apartments as D103-104 D203-204 and D303-304.
The fire started in the second-floor apartment where firefighters found the victim. Investigators believe the fire was started by a cigarette and suspect the victim may have fallen asleep while smoking.
More than 30 firefighters from Fire District 1, Shoreline and Lynnwood responded to the fire, which caused more than $550,000 in damage. No one else was injured.
Lynn Pacheco lives in D101.
"I was lying on the couch because I wasn't feeling well," she said. "I heard the alarm go off. I went outside and saw all the flames. It's a shame. This is a nice place to live, and they recently upgraded the kitchens and bathrooms."
The Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross was on site to help those displaced by the fire.
"All 35 residents of the 12-unit building will be out of their apartments for the night because the power was cut to the building," Hynes said.
In addition to the four apartments with fire damage, two others have smoke and water damage. "The 11 residents of these six units won't be able to return to their apartments," Hynes said.
Smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Fire District 1 offers these tips to prevent fires caused by smoking materials:
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.
- Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
- Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
- To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. Don’t smoke if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.