Twelve people were taken to a hospital this morning after a fire broke out near the kitchen and activity room of a retirement community in Tacoma, according to the Fire Department.
Heavy smoke was reported shortly about 6:15 a.m. at Life Manor Retirement Community, 1609 South Union Ave.
Residents on the bottom two floors were immediately evacuated. Firefighters have cleared the independent living building of smoke and are helping residents from the other five floors out of the building.
Fire Chief Jim Duggan said an automated fire door stopped flames from reaching the residence hall but the smoke was pushed directly into the second floor hallway.
A cause has not been determined but investigators believe it was an electrical problem, spokesman Joe Meinecke said.
Wilson Franks, 72, was preparing to make pancakes when he heard a loud noise and looked out in the hallway from his first-floor room.
“The smoke was getting pretty bad,” he said. “I said, it’s time to get out of here.”
Franks was standing outside the building holding a half-drunk mug of coffee provided by Life Center. He was hoping for an escort inside to retrieve his glasses, medication and billfold.
Nearly 150 people live in the building affected by smoke. All but 15 will be staying with family members in the area, Pastor Dean Curry said. The rest will be placed in facilities Life Manor has emergency agreements with.
It is expected to take 48 hours to clean most of the hallways and a week to clean the first and second floor.