Timberglen Apartments residents escaped injury after a grilling accident led to a fire there Wednesday night.
Josh Spanicek, Lishelle Olson and her boyfriend, Dustin Penrose, who live in apartment A11, were preparing to grill shish kebabs on their balcony. Penrose poured lighter fluid on the charcoals and then lit the grill.
Lighter fluid apparently leaked out of the can and across the deck, Penrose said, because the flames jumped out of the grill and engulfed the balcony. "I was thinking I was going to have to put him out, because his legs were on fire," Olson said.
Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Chris Nichols said that everyone was evacuated quickly and safely. The damage to Penrose's apartment is heavy, but the neighboring homes were only minimally affected.
"It was a pretty quick response to get it contained to the point of origin without spreading to the whole building," he said.
The department sent five engines and 20 firefighters to the scene at about 8:30 p.m.
Timberglen manager Renata Veason said the building's roof was completed just the day before, in an effort by the owners, Asset Management Services in Gillette, Wyo., to improve the site's image. They bought the complex in October 2004.
Penrose's neighbor, Jared Wolfe, saw the fire start while he and his roommate, John Hovan, were having a beer on their balcony.
Wolfe ran to the apartment next door, grabbing a fire extinguisher on his way. His hand was bloody from breaking the glass.
"It was beyond a fire extinguisher by the time I got there," Wolfe said.
Hovan was focused on getting his passport out of the apartment, as he had a flight to Peru to see his fiancee today. Officials said there might be a chance to gather belongings before the end of the night.
But the 12 registered tenants had to find another place to sleep, with assistance from the American Red Cross and Advocates Crisis Support Services. Olson said she expected to stay at a hotel or on a cot in a local park.
She was disappointed by the incident, because she does not have insurance and had just gotten settled into the apartment. The roommates had been there a little more than one month.
"Babe," Penrose said, "we're not ever making shish kebabs again."
Michelle Perry may be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org