By Rikki King and Diana Hefley Herald Writers
EVERETT — A man died Friday in a fast-moving apartment fire in north Everett that was accompanied by explosions.
The two-alarm fire broke out about 1 p.m. in the tidy brick San Marco building in the 2400 block of Rucker Avenue. It sent smoke billowing over parts of north Everett. Fire crews from as far away as Snohomish and Lake Stevens swarmed to the blaze.
The victim’s age was not immediately known, Assistant Fire Marshal Eric Hicks said. He was believed to be elderly.
By 1:30 p.m., crews had knocked down the flames, and more investigators were being summoned to the scene to help determine the fire’s cause.
At least one of the building’s 14 units sustained heavy fire damage, Hicks said. Nearby units also likely were damaged by smoke. The American Red Cross was called out to assist those displaced.
Witnesses said the fire moved hot and fast.
Jeff Steeves, a teacher in Everett, was driving nearby when he spotted the smoke. He pulled over and began knocking on windows at the two-story building, trying to alert occupants.
The heat drove him away.
“Flames just stared flying out of the top unit,” he said.
Justin Cusber, 30, lives in the building with his girlfriend, Kaylie Plybon. The couple waited outside for news about their home.
Someone had knocked on their apartment door and yelled, “Fire!” and they got out, Cusber said.
Dozens of neighbors crowded the nearby sidewalks and streets on Friday afternoon watching the scene.
Michelle Moore, 56, lives in another apartment complex nearby.
She said that the fire was accompanied by at least two explosions. It made her concerned for her own safety, although the flames did not spread to other buildings.
“I put my shoes on thinking maybe we should get out of there,” she said.
The victim’s body was expected to be taken to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office for identification and to determine cause of death, officials said.
Friday marked the first fatal fire in the city since November, when the historic McCrossen Building burned along Hewitt Avenue downtown.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449, firstname.lastname@example.org.