A fire at a two-story apartment complex in Seaside Monday night displaced six adults, one child and one pet, according to early reports from the American Red Cross.
The fire, which was reported at approximately 9:32 p.m., began in apartment 7A of the Sandhill Apartments at 150 S. Wahanna Road, caused fire damage to at least two neighboring apartments and smoke damage to others in the six-unit building.
Apartment resident Courtney Perry, who works at Necanicum Village, said it was the smell that first alerted her that something was wrong. It was not the normal smell associated with something burning, but much more “pungent,” she said. She ran downstairs to make sure the tenant living below her was all right.
When she looked over at the neighboring building, she saw bright flashes coming from apartment 7A.
“It went from flashes right away to flames and smoke,” she said.
People stayed calm and went to check on one another and make sure everyone was able to get out safely. Almost all of the residents had vacated their buildings before emergency responders were on the scene, Perry said.
Pat Mills, a resident from a unit in close proximity to apartment 7A, said she was given a voucher for two nights at a local hotel, but had no word about when she could return to her apartment, which had smoke damage, but was otherwise unharmed.
By this morning, she had started to get over her stress, she said, but her dog, Maddy, still was frightened from the events the night before.
A few residents of the complex tried to get the tenant in 7A to vacate his unit, but they were unsuccessful. When the Seaside Police Department arrived, they were able to get the man from his unit, Perry and Mills said.
The women said they were touched by the way everyone came together — not only the residents of the Sandhill Apartments, but also their neighbors and the community at large.
“I can’t say enough about how everyone took care of each other,” Perry said.
The apartment residents who were unaffected offered their apartments and a place to stay to those who were displaced. Other people brought supplies, like water, chairs and blankets.
An officer with the Seaside Police Department stayed throughout the night to monitor the situation. An employee with Pacific Power worked until 1 a.m. to get power back to the building, Perry said. By 8 a.m. this morning, Seaside Public Works was working to get the water turned back on.
“It just was kind of cool to see the community get together and help everyone out,” she said. “I wasn’t even the one affected, and I still feel humbled.”
Five families were affected, and one resident was transported by Medix Ambulance Service. Although total property value is unknown at this time, damage to the property is estimated at about $80,000. The apartments are owned by Northwest Oregon Housing Authority, managed by Guardian Management.
The cause of the fire is still unknown; the scene will be turned over to the Clatsop County Fire Investigation team for further investigation.
The Seaside Fire Department was initially assisted by firefighters from Gearhart, Cannon Beach and Hamlet. A second alarm, however, brought fire crews from Lewis & Clark, Warrenton and Astoria fire departments. The Seaside Police Department and Pacific Power also responded to the call.
The residents in the building on the north side of the complex were unharmed and allowed to return to their apartments Monday night.
Only three units suffered severe fire damage, but others had smoke damage and those tenants were displaced, as well. When some tenants returned to gather their belongings this morning, Seaside Fire & Rescue informed them the tenants could not go into the affected building until the fire investigation was completed.
The Red Cross provided comfort kits, lodging, food and information about disaster mental health and disaster health services for some of the victims.