EVERETT, Wash. -- A fire gutted a college library and killed a firefighter buried by a collapsed wall Monday but three others were able to crawl along their hose through the smoke to safety, authorities said.
The spectacular 3:15 a.m. fast-moving blaze destroyed at least 50,000 books, 20,000 periodicals and hundreds of student records at the two-story Everett Community College library, its director Stan Horton said.
'There will be millions and millions of dollars worth of damage,' college president Bob Dreuel said. The block-square structure was a complete loss, he said.
More than 100 firefighters battled the flames at the school, which was closed for the holiday.
A falling wall landed on Gary Parks, 48, Lake Stevens, an 18-year veteran who was one of the first firefighters to enter the building, and trapped three other firemen in the flames for a short time, officials said.
But the three were able to crawl along the floor through the dense smoke, following their firehose to safety, which is part of standard emergency training, Assistant Chief Jim Branstrom said.
The fire, of undetermined origin, quickly spread from the library into the cafeteria and student activities center next door but was stopped from spreading to nearby homes.
A police patrolman several blocks away said he saw 40-foot flames shooting through the roof and radioed in the first report.
The second floor of the library housed 'an enormous amount of magazines and newspapers,' Branstrom said. 'All that caught on fire and got really hot and then collapsed into the floor below.'
Parks was Everett's first firefighter killed in the line of duty since 1920.
Firefighter Bill Long, 42, was taken to Everett General Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and transferred to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle.
'He took a tremendous shot of carbon monoxide,' said Branstrom.
Firefighters Sam Franchimone, 34, and Jay Kammarzell, 29, were treated and released at Everett General, Branstrom said.
Druel said the school will remain closed Tuesday. He said it would be at least nine months to a year before a decision is made on how to replace the loss.