Senior citizens escape early morning fire at Spokane high rise

Senior citizens escape early morning fire at Spokane high rise

Nearly 200 senior citizens were rushed out of a high rise that caught fire early Monday morning.

The fire broke out just before 4 a.m. at the Lilac Plaza Retirement Community in North Spokane.

Many of those seniors are at high risk because of health issues, making Monday’s response by firefighters even more important.

Those senior citizens were jolted awake by alarms and strobe lights alerting them to a fire in the building.

Many of them were stuck in their room until someone was able to help them escape.

“A lot of these people have conditions of heart failure, COPD, breathing problems, so obviously a huge medical risk,” said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Sandra Mason lives on the 9th floor and usually has to use a walker, but she says she had to grab her cat and get down the stairs herself Monday morning.

“It was really scary, because, I mean, 14 floors and I didn’t know whether to come out of the room, stay in the room,” Mason said.

When firefighters arrived, they could see flames near the top floor of the building and knew they had to work quickly to keep the occupants safe.

“The fire itself was located in air conditioning unit and it was contained extrememly quickly,” Schaeffer said.

That air conditioning unit was located above the top floor of the building.

Everyone was able to safely get out of the building. Only one person was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

“Pretty good outcome, based on what they were faced with, first thing right out of the gate,” said Schaeffer.

“They were really great. But, I’m still shaky from it,” Mason said.

Mason says she’s tried to get some shut eye since the commotion, but thinks it could be a while before that can happen.

“I lay down. I’m tired, but I lay down and I can’t relax to go back to sleep,” she said.

Around 70 emergency personnel responded to the fire. Investigators determined the cause of the fire was electrical issues in the H-VAC unit in the building’s elevator head room.