Stanwood Police Officer Tracy Peckham (left) and Sgt. Jess Sanders. (Red Cross)

Stanwood Police Officer Tracy Peckham (left) and Sgt. Jess Sanders. (Red Cross)

At a Stanwood senior center fire, officers kicked open doors

TULALIP — Local heroes and Red Cross volunteers were to be honored Thursday for acts of courage, selflessness and service to community. The 2016 Red Cross Centennial Heroes Breakfast, at the Tulalip Resort Casino, is a fundraising event to help support the American Red Cross serving Snohomish County.

See the stories about all 10 awards

Courage in Action: Stanwood Police Sgt. Jess Sanders and Officer Tracy Peckham

On the night of June 15, a fire broke out in an apartment at the Stanwood Community & Senior Center.

The Stanwood Police Department’s Sgt. Jess Sanders and Officer Tracy Peckham were quick to act, calling for all Stanwood units to respond. Julie Vess, the center’s executive director, said that by the time first responders arrived, smoke made it nearly impossible to see.

Visibility was limited even with flashlights, Peckham said, and it was tough to breathe.

Knowing some residents were in their apartments, Peckham and Sanders went door-to-door, but most were locked. Kicking in door after door — they were thick, fire-rated doors — the police pair made sure all 85 residents were out of the building by the time firefighters arrived. Peckham and Sanders were treated for smoke inhalation, but no residents were injured.

Seven of the center’s 85 low-income apartments had to be refurbished. The fire damage has been repaired, but some residents wanted to keep the police boot marks on their doors as reminders of how they were saved.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

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