‘It was like a big explosion’: Fire burns 56 Bellevue apartment units, impacting dozens

A fire at Central Park East Apartments in Bellevue left dozens of families in need of shelter on Tuesday. Bellevue Fire said 56 units are in the building that burned and none of the people who live there will be able to return at night. The fire department said 21 of those units are completely destroyed so those people will have to find new places to live.

The fire started around 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

“It was like a big explosion kind of, my TV fell and stuff,” Sophiea Pierce, who lives in the complex, said.

Bellevue Fire said that as soon as the first crews got on the scene, they upgraded it to a 3-alarm fire, calling in more resources from surrounding areas.

“I didn’t expect the fire to be this big,” Roline Saldanha, who also lives in the complex, said.

Bellevue Fire said the roof of the building collapsed. Bellevue Cares was there to help while they waited for the Red Cross.

“Having somebody who just speaks your language just to even help explain what’s going on is a calming factor and we’re just trying to be here to fill the gap and provide some calming factor for folks that we can,” Natasha Grossman, the program manager for Bellevue Fire Cares, said.

Pierce said that when the fire alarm originally went off, her dog and cat got lost in the chaos.

“My dog is just laying there and there’s like fire above them and there was this piece of wood that fell down and she’s just laying there holding her,” she said. “I put her on my shoulder and I grabbed Acuma by her scruff and I just dragged them out.”

The Red Cross is helping those impacted find shelter.