Fire ripped through the upstairs of a South Hill apartment complex Wednesday, leaving nearly 30 people homeless.
A firewall in the 10-unit building of the Regal Ridge apartments, 5111 S. Regal St., may have saved the five apartments on its south side, said Spokane fire Chief Bobby Williams.
“It looks like it did its job,” Williams said. “That’s why they’re required.”
The blaze broke out about 12:25 p.m. in the upper floor of the two-story building fronting Regal, just south of 51st Avenue.
Firefighters declared a three-alarm blaze and mobilized units from all over the city. Nine of the 10 apartments were occupied.
The American Red Cross was helping the 17 adults and 12 children affected.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Tara Mackintosh, who lives in an apartment below where the fire began. “You don’t think it will ever happen to you or somebody you know.”
Mackintosh, who shares her bottom-floor apartment with her mother and daughter, was the only one home when the apartment manager banged on her door and told her to get out because of a fire, she said.
She grabbed her guinea pig, Otter, and dachshund, Maggie, and waited outside to hear about the condition of her home of about nine years.
Fire crews Wednesday hadn’t determined how or where the blaze started, but damage centered on two units on the top floor above Mackintosh’s apartment, north of the firewall.
Smoke billowed through the air and flames were shooting from the attic when crews arrived.
“The troops did a great job,” Williams said. “With the amount of fire we had, that could have easily taken out the whole building.”
No one was hurt in the fire, but crews couldn’t find at least one cat living in the building, Williams said.
Much of the inside of the building was covered in debris from the fire, he said.
About 40 to 50 firefighters and staff fought the fire, which took about 30 minutes to knock down.
The fire closed South Regal Street from East 51st and East 53rd avenues for most of the afternoon.