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Afirein KentFriday afternoon forceddozens of people to fleean apartment complex and destroyed the homes of three residents.

Kent Fire Capt. Kyle Ohashi said the fire in the complex in the 23200 block of 88th Avenue South was reported about 4 p.m. When the first units arrived, they found one entire end of the three-story structure ablaze and billowing smoke.

Ohashi said three apartment units, one above the other, suffered severe fire damage and were “essentially gutted.” Two were occupied at the time, but the families were able to flee to safety. The occupants of the third unit were not home, buthad been notified and were en route, he said.

Thefire caused the evacuation ofan entire wing of the complex, although most residents were expected to be able toreturn to their homeson Friday. A fewof the adjacent apartments sustained minor smoke and water damage, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, although Ohashi said it did not appear suspicious. He said damages would likely be extensive, however no dollar estimate was available Friday evening.

The apartment-complex manager was attempting to find alternate housingfor the displaced families, the captain said. The Red Cross also had been notified.