WINSTON — Quick thinking by neighbors when a fire broke out in an apartment complex in Winston early Sunday morning may have saved some lives.

Firefighters from the Winston-Dillard Fire District, Douglas County Fire District No. 2 and Lookingglass Rural Fire District, were dispatched just before 1 a.m. Sunday, to the Blue Ridge Apartments at 123 SW Hart Street.

Crews received an initial report of people trapped and an apartment was quickly filling with black smoke. When they arrived, they found a large amount of smoke and fire coming out the back of the structure and through the roof.

Fire District No. 2 Battalion Chief Josh Waechter said a woman in the bottom residence saved herself by breaking through an old fence around her patio. An upstairs resident was assisted by neighbors who brought a ladder for her to climb down.

Waechter said firefighters found that the fire was blocking the front doors for two apartments, but neighbors went to work quickly to get both occupants and their children to safety.

Waechter said firefighters were able to knock down the majority of the fire with an aggressive initial fire attack and when additional crews arrived on scene firefighters made entry into the home and fully extinguished the fire.

“The firefighters on the scene did an amazing job,” Waechter said. The fire could have been so much worse and extended to additional apartments and buildings if it wasn’t for their quick work.”

Fire officials say the cause of the blaze is undetermined, but it is considered accidental, although investigators suspect fireworks may have been involved.

A damage estimate has not yet been determined, but Waechter said two of the apartments in the four-plex will likely have to be reconstructed because of damage inside and outside and in the attic area.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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