5 killed, including children, in Seattle apartment fire, authorities say

SEATTLE (AP) — A blaze tore through a Seattle apartment Saturday and killed five people, including four children, fire officials said.

The fire was reported just after 10 a.m. in what authorities described as a two-story apartment unit in the city's Fremont neighborhood north of downtown. Property records indicate the building is owned by the Seattle Housing Authority.

The first engine to respond had a problem with a pump that prevented it from spraying water on the fire, but a second unit arrived two minutes later and was able to fight the fire, said Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick. The fire was put out within about 40 minutes of when it was reported.

It was the highest death toll for a Seattle fire in recent memory.

"We haven't had anything like this in at least the last 10 years," Fitzpatrick said.

The fire did not spread to any neighboring apartments. Its cause was not immediately known.

Fitzpatrick said a 21-year-old woman, a 14-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl died in the fire.

Chaplains joined Seattle fire investigators on scene, and two women were so distraught they were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Fitzpatrick said. Seattle police also sent bomb and arson units, as is standard in fire fatality investigations, she said.

The investigators were able to enter the building by midday.

Fremont is a trendy neighborhood on the Lake Washington Ship Canal known for its giant statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and an annual summer solstice parade.

A witness told The Seattle Times that a woman ran from the building with a baby in her arms.

"She said, 'fire!'" Lisa May, of Bellevue, told the newspaper. "'My babies, my babies, my babies are inside.'"

The three-bedroom apartment had been rented by the same family since 2006, said Seattle Housing Authority spokeswoman Virginia Felton.

Two men fought the fire with garden hoses as they waited for help to arrive, the newspaper said.

One firefighter suffered a back injury and was taken to the hospital, Fitzpatrick said.