A man was stranded on a back deck. A woman was struggling to get out of the smoke.
Tony Vierra, the maintenance man, didn't think.
He just helped.
Vierra, 50, aided in the rescue of several people from a two-alarm fire Thursday morning at a Lynnwood-area apartment complex, said Leslie Hynes, spokeswoman for Snohomish County Fire District 1.
"He pounded on doors and got people out of the building," she said. "He did a great job."
The fire was reported about 9:30 a.m. at an eight-unit building at The Seasons Apartments in the 3700 block of 164th Street SW, just north of town.
One man was taken to a local hospital for smoke exposure, Hynes said. The man's injuries weren't believed to be life-threatening. His age wasn't immediately available.
Two more people were treated at the scene for smoke exposure.
The fire destroyed two apartments, with lesser damage to several more, Hynes said. About a dozen people were displaced.
Crews got most of the fire out within about 15 minutes, Hynes said. Smoke was visible for miles.
Vierra was in the office at the complex when the fire broke out, he said.
A woman began beating on the door and yelling. He ran outside and saw smoke billowing from an apartment.
"I started to scream bloody murder yelling, 'Fire!,' and banging on everybody's door," he said.
A man on a back deck was trying to use an extension cord to lower himself down about 20 feet to safety, Vierra said. Vierra ran and grabbed a ladder so the man could climb down.
Another woman appeared to be lost in the smoke.
"He saw her coming through the smoke with her cat and helped her out," Hynes said.
"There wasn't any thought process," Vierra said. "It was just reaction."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but it appears to be accidental, Hynes said. Damage was estimated at $400,000. The American Red Cross was assisting those displaced. Crews also responded from Lynnwood and Mukilteo.
Vierra said he did what he hopes anyone would do. He's been at the complex about four months but has worked for the company for years, he said.
"No one's gonna get hurt on my watch," he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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