One dead, another hospitalized after early morning fire at Centralia apartment complex


Two people were hospitalized, and one later died, following a fire at the Centralia Manor Apartments early Wednesday morning, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department. 

At 6: 22 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Riverside Fire Authority (RFA) and the Centralia Police Department (CPD) were dispatched to the apartment building in the 300 block of West Pine Street for reports of audible fire alarms and heavy smoke. Officers and detectives arrived and observed flames coming from the third floor of the occupied apartment building. 

The officers and detectives immediately entered the building and began evacuating the residents, according to the release. Firefighters from RFA arrived shortly after and began efforts to put out the fire and provide emergency medical assistance. 

The evacuation required officers and detectives to force entry into multiple apartments to wake up residents and assist them in evacuating the building, according to the release. First responders were able to assist in evacuating individuals in wheelchairs, those needing walkers and individuals with pets.

Two people from different apartments were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital for breathing issues, and one of the two was later pronounced dead, according to the police department. 

The City of Centralia Emergency Operation Center opened to assist emergency response personnel in coordinating between victims, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Twin Transit. 

The Chehalis Fire Department, Lewis County Fire District 5 (Napavine), Lewis County Fire District 6 (Chehalis), the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority, and American Medical Response responded to assist RFA with the fire. 

“Residents from the apartment building were evacuated to the Centralia Salvation Army while the fire was fought and during the ensuing investigation,” the police department stated in the release. “The CPD and RFA want to thank Twin Transit for providing transportation, the Salvation Army for providing shelter accommodations, breakfast and blankets, and Lewis County Chaplaincy for being on scene to assist residents. The American Red Cross is coordinating with three families who are unable to return to their apartments due to damage.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The identity of the deceased will be released by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office once family has been notified.

No further information is being released at this time, according to the department.

Previous story: Centralia seniors evacuated due to fire in apartment unit Wednesday morning

About 20 residents from a senior housing facility in Centralia were evacuated before sunrise on Wednesday morning after a fire started in a third-floor unit of the three-story Centralia Manor Apartments.

Centralia police, the Riverside Fire Authority and officers from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded to the blaze at the corner of West Pine and North Iron streets before 7 a.m. Wednesday. Seniors from the apartments were evacuated and began arriving at the Salvation Army building in Centralia at 7:10 a.m., said Salvation Army Captain Steven Pack.

Before a completed building inspection, the departments did not release the cause of the fire before The Chronicle’s press deadline on Wednesday, but Centralia Police Commander Andy Caldwell said a news release would be available later in the day.

Pack said the blaze was contained to the area, though he didn’t know the extent of fire, smoke or water damage to the unit or its neighbors. 

“It started in one, but they didn’t say how far it spread,” Pack said. “I know they did say they had to put water in more than one (unit).”

Charles Burgie, 73, and Donna Burgie, 64, are neighbors to the third-floor unit that caught fire. The duo said they called 911 and, because of their early knowledge of the blaze, were able to evacuate with their Chihuahuas, Zues and Nico.

There were “a lot” of dogs and cats still at the facility, Pack said. Captain Gin Pack said Centralia Police Commander Paul Evers intended to “round up” the animals left inside the building. 

“We don’t have a timeline yet, because it’s so new,” Gin Pack said at 8:48 a.m. Wednesday.

Steven Pack added, “We’ll be open for them as long as they need it, and the Red Cross has been contacted if there’s additional sheltering needs. … We’re already planning dinner.”