VANCOUVER, Wash. – Firefighters say one man died in a two-alarm fire at a Vancouver apartment complex early Thursday morning.
The Clark County medical examiner on Monday ruled that 52-year-old Gavino S. Rodriguez died of smoke inhalation and it was an accident.
Fire crews on Thursday morning were unable to reach one unit at the Sunpointe Apartments because the building was unstable.
Firefighters recovered Rodriguez's body just before 9 a.m.
Flames quickly spread through the apartments because there is not a sprinkler system in the apartment complex, firefighters said. A fire spokesman said he believes the complex was built before sprinklers were required.
Crews called for more resources with a second alarm.
Twelve apartments were burned. Six of those were severely damaged.
Residents who evacuated said someone was banging on doors to wake people up and tell them to get out.
“He said he heard people crying and yelling and when he got over to investigate what was going on, all the doors were open to all apartments,” said Ryan Fothergill, who lives nearby.
Shirley and Bill Marbut live at the apartments. They made it safely out of the building.
“I didn’t realize how bad it could be and how fast it could go from one apartment to the next,” said Shirley Marbut.
The couple said they did not hear any smoke alarms.
City Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said the two-alarm fire started accidentally on a bottom floor patio, KATU's news partners at The Columbian reported.