Community steps up to help more than 70 displaced by fire

HAZEL DELL, Wash. - Donations of food and clothes for people and for pets poured into the office of an apartment complex Monday that was badly burned, leaving more than 70 people homeless.

One person was burned in the early Sunday morning fire at the Bridge Creek Apartments. Everyone got out alive, but many are now looking for a place to live.

On Tuesday, the assistant fire marshal said the fire was accidental, but that several people still need to be questioned before determining what started it.

It is unknown how long residents will be out of their homes.

Crews were at the complex all day Monday, sizing up the damage, cleaning up and boarding up.

KATU learned that some people who live at the complex have been gone and may not even know their apartment is burned or damaged by smoke or water.

Volunteers made a place for the displaced residents to stay Sunday night.

A family of eight, a family of four, a single woman and a cat and a dog were all put up at the Memorial Lutheran Church.

"It takes some logistics to get everybody settled," said Jim Wulf, the church's custodian. "You have to think about disabilities, who needs help getting in or out and around, who might be allergic to an animal, so we had to put the dog and cat together in the basement."

The family of eight came back to the church for its free soup lunch the church has every day during the week. This is the third time the church has helped out fire victims.

Others, like Andrew Ball, gathered up clothes for people they don't even know.

Ball and his friend hauled several bags of clothes from his car, and had more to go get.

"I've been down and out, and people have helped me," said Ball. "Some of these people have nothing but the clothes on their back, so I hope it'll help."

Investigators say the fire started in the walkway of the third story of the building.