Tracie Shelton was watching television early yesterday when the glare from a bright light outside drew her to the window. Looking outside, she saw that the light came from a fire burning in a ground-floor apartment window next door.
"I called the fire department and then I woke my brother Kevin and we ran over there in our night clothes," said the 18-year-old Shelton.
The two teen-agers, who live at 906 Varney St. SE in the Washington Highlands neighborhood, said they threw rocks and sticks up against the windows of the three-story brick building at 910 Varney until they saw people come to the windows.
"The lady on the third floor hollered out the window that she was getting some blankets for her kids and she was coming out," Tracie Shelton said. "I yelled back at her that we couldn't wake the people on the second floor and she said she'd get them."
Shelton says she and her brother, 17, raced to the front of the building and found the families from the second floor already outside the building.
"It looked like such a little fire and then it was just everywhere," Tracie Shelton said.
A total of 48 firefighters fought the fire for 30 minutes, according to a fire department spokesman, Lt. Eugene Seabolt.
"That is a fire-plagued area," Seabolt said. No one was injured in the blaze, but it caused $30,000 damage to the building. "We believe the fire was set in the bedroom of the vacant basement apartment and spread to the second and third floors and attic," he said.
Shelton said that she has survived several fires in her building.