Fire damages 12 units, residents escape through windows

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Size:  26.0 KB VALLEY CITY — At least three residents were rescued from the third-floor windows of an apartment complex after a two-alarm fire broke out Sunday morning.



West Valley City Fire crews arrived at the Brookwood Park Apartments, 3854 Rockwood Way, about 10 a.m. to find flames climbing the backside of one of the three-story buildings at the complex.



The fire started in a basement apartment and spread quickly to the second and third floors, said West Valley City Fire Marshal Bob Fitzgerald.



No one was injured in the fire, though several residents trapped on the third floor — including a pregnant woman — had to be rescued through windows, Fitzgerald said. The woman and at least two others were taken to Pioneer Valley Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.



Cause of the fire was not immediately known, but it appears to be accidental, Fitzgerald said.



Witnesses told firefighters the fire started in a vacant basement apartment where a worker was doing some repairs. At some point, the worker exited the apartment and left the door open, which allowed the fire to spread rapidly to the upper two levels.



"It's an amazing difference a closed door makes," Fitzgerald said. "That door, even those hollow-core doors, will hold a fire for 10 minutes or so from breaking out. You can fight it in one room rather than just let it spread."

“That door, even those hollow-core doors, will hold a fire for 10 minutes or so from breaking out. You can fight it in one room rather than just let it spread.”
–- Bob Fitzgerald



The fire also filled the shared breezeway in the building, blocking residents' main exit and forcing some of them to jump through windows to escape.



"While setting up to do an offensive attack on the fire, (firefighters) heard some glass break," Fitzgerald said. "They looked up, and there was a foot coming out of a window on the third floor."



Twelve units were damaged by fire, and others likely sustained smoke damage. Some of the fire-damaged apartments were vacant, Fitzgerald said.



Angela Fresh was with her husband and two children, ages 2 and 3, in one of the basement apartments damaged in the fire. Fresh said she was making breakfast for her children when she smelled smoke.



She opened the door and saw smoke filling the breezeway. By the time she'd awakened her husband and got the kids dressed, their exit was blocked by flames, Fresh said.



"(My kids) were scared," she said. "They were crying."



The family was able to escape through a window.



"I'm lucky to have my life and my kids," Fresh said.



Mark Walls, who resides in a neighboring building at the complex, said he was awakened by the sound of sirens.



"I thought a police chase or something was going on, so I stuck my head out and saw the fire trucks pulling in," Wall said.



He also saw smoke, and as he got closer to the building, he could see that "all three (levels) were engulfed in flame."



"The first thing that came to mind was, 'I hope nobody was in there,'" Wall said. "I hope everybody's all right."