Breaking News
More () »

"Thank God for the fire department": Elderly man recalls rescue from burning apartment complex in downtown Spokane

Anthony Trostel had to be lowered down from his balcony on the 9th floor after a fire broke out inside his apartment complex.

SPOKANE, Wash. — It was a dramatic rescue.

Anthony Trostel had to be lowered down from his balcony on the 9th floor after a fire broke out inside his apartment complex, home to more than 100 elderly and disabled people. Firefighters had little time to put out the flames and rescue those trapped inside the Park Tower Apartments. 

"The walls are on fire, everything is on fire," Trostel said.

He woke up this afternoon to smoke and flames all around him. Trostel's only option was to stand out on his 9th floor balcony and wait for help.

"That's the only place I could go, either that or jump off the balcony," he said. "I would have been a big splat. No bouncing from that height." 

Trostel makes light of what happened to him but knows he could have died. Many of his elderly and disabled neighbors were trapped as well. Firefighters faced a challenging rescue, and they didn't have much time.

"Imagine going up nine flights of stairs when you know somebody is trapped," Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said. "You're going into an environment that's already smoke-filled, you're coming across people that are having a hard time coming down the stairs, you're trying to navigate carrying 300 to 400 feet of hose on your backs."

As Trostel stood on his balcony, a tower truck raised a ladder to the 9th floor. He remembers what firefighters told him as they tried to get him in the bucket.

"'Just keep breathing, you're alright, we'll get you down'," Trostel recalled. "'Let go of your leg,' because I didn't want to let go of that balcony."

Trostel had minor burns on his hands, back and neck. The apartment was so hot, his shoes melted to the floor. He also inhaled a lot of smoke.

"So much that my inside was black, all the way down my esophagus," Trostel said.

Trostel was back on his feet a few hours later. He lost everything in the fire, but is thankful he didn't lose his life.

"Thank god for the fire department," Trostel said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Trostel believes a motor in his pneumatic bed may have burst into flames. Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer told us the apartment complex is a relatively old building and does not have a sprinkler system. He says it's concerning, given the fact that the majority of residents living there are elderly and disabled.

>> Download KREM 2's Roku and Amazon Fire apps to watch live newscasts and video on demand 

Before You Leave, Check This Out