EVERETT, Wash. -- A massive 4-alarm fire tore through a waterfront apartment complex under construction in Everett Thursday, creating a raging inferno that damaged two homes up a nearby hill and partially burning an ambulance and fire truck that had responded to the scene.
The fire in one of the two large buildings broke out around 5:45 p.m. at the upcoming Waterfront Place Apartments and quickly spread across the building.
Videos from social media showed towering flames stretching high across the sky as dozens of firefighters scrambled to the scene to start dousing the blaze.
Gusty winds then blew the flames and burning embers across West Marine View Drive, sparking additional brush fires along 16th Avenue that severely damaged one home and caused some minor damage to another, Everett Fire officials said. A KOMO photographer found embers on the streets more than a mile away from the fire scene.
Mary Mara who lives up on the hill across from street sprayed down her deck with a hose as she saw burning embers fall from the sky.
"We just watched as the fire grew and it was scary and overwhelming,"Mara said. "The flames were shooting up over the roof lines of the homes."
Mason Rutledge, who lives near the fire, noted the size of the embers.
"I mean one I just took down, it was about the size of a basketball," Rutledge said. "I can't believe how big they are."
Rutledge said six neighbors rushed nearby and sprayed down a house affected.
"This bush was on fire," Rutledge said. "The carport was on fire. The was a fire up on the eave in the gutter but I think we got everything soaking wet now."
Closer to the flames, an Everett Fire ladder truck had its windows blown out from the heat while an ambulance also suffered heat damage.
"It was a hot fire obviously if two of our apparatus were damaged," said Rachael Boniger with Everett Fire.
A firefighter who had minor burns to his hand when he tried to move the ambulance was the only injury reported. He was one of 73 on the scene fighting the 4-alarm fire, officials said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The apartment complex was part of a massive waterfront redevelopment plan under way in Everett as city leaders aimed to deal with a projected 60,000 increase in residents over the next 20 years.
According to the developer's web site, the combined buildings were to house 266 units and open in 2021.
Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber released a statement on Friday saying that the port plans to continue moveing forward with the project and have it completed in the original 2021 time frame.
"The port has spent over $50 million in Fisherman's Harbor, building roads, utilities, building guest docks," Lefeber, said back when the city broke ground on the apartment project. The goal is to create a 65-acre mixed-use development with homes, hotels, restaurants, parks and more.
Now one of the two massive apartment complexes has been reduced to rubble. The other building nearby sustained some minor damage, officials said.
In the statement released Friday, Lefeber said "We are grateful that everyone is okay, and we thank this community for the outpouring of support, whether physically on-scene supporting fire response or at home, supporting with kind words and heartfelt messages."