Emergency response to the Maple Crest Apartment fire in Tukwila, WA on August 17, 2021

By Abby Lutz

“Let’s go, let’s go — there’s a fire, we’ve got to get out of here!”  

Those were the words that awoke Samantha Walker on August 17, 2021 in her Tukwila apartment. Her husband, Isiac Walker, woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work, but when he looked out to the balcony he saw bright orange flames. 

“I opened the door and I saw my neighbor tripping trying to get out,” he said. His first reaction: get Samantha and himself outside as quickly as possible. “Stuff happens so fast that you just have to think about your safety,” said Isiac.  

The room was already filling with smoke as he shouted for Samantha to wake up.  

“I was kind of in a daze,” Samantha said. “I just threw something on, grabbed my purse and got out the door.” 

Isiac and Samantha Walker at a Red Cross emergency center just a few hours after they escaped the apartment fire.

Isiac didn’t even turn back for his wallet, fearing the building would collapse. With the clothes on their backs and not even shoes on their feet, the couple ran out of the apartment where they had lived for the last year and a half, leaving all their possessions behind.  

“We lost everything we had,” Samantha said.  

Isiac and Samantha, along with dozens of others who lived in the apartment building, were taken to a nearby community center where Red Cross Disaster Responders and Mental Health Volunteers ensured their immediate needs were taken care of.  

“The Red Cross has been awesome to us, giving us something to eat and a few clothes and helping out with a little bit of funds,” said Isiac. “That’s more than a blessing to us for right now.”  

Disaster Mental Health volunteer Dan Mosley was one of many Red Crossers on scene talking with families impacted by the fire.

In the days following the devastating fire, Red Cross volunteers continued working with all the displaced residents to make sure they had safe shelter, food, emotional support, health services and recovery assistance.  

But our work isn’t possible without disaster and mental health volunteers who are willing to show up when their community needs them. It’s critical to have a trained, ready-to-go volunteer workforce to make sure we can provide comfort and support to anyone who needs aid after a disaster.  

Will you help us in our mission? Sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross today, and make a difference on the days (or nights) when your neighbors need it most. 

Get the process started at redcross.org/volunteertoday

The Red Cross has been awesome to us, giving us something to eat and a few clothes and helping out with a little bit of funds. That’s more than a blessing to us right now.

Isiac Walker, Red Cross Client

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