Tony Clay, an auto detailer at a Mercer Island Shell Station for 21 years, was a minor celebrity last week. Clay was interviewed on a local news station after he pulled a man from the doorway of his burning apartment and alerted the manager of the Belltown building Sunday, June 5. There were no injuries from the blaze, but nine people and two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.
He’s heard from a few people since the story aired on Channel 7, some calling him a hero. Clay said it was fortunate that nobody panicked or was hurt.
“I was just happy I could help people out on a Sunday,” he said.
Awake early to go to work at the station at 7833 S.E. 28th St., Clay stepped into the smoky third-floor hallway of his Belltown apartment building. A neighbor on Clay’s floor was passed out in his doorway while his mattress was on fire inside the apartment.
Clay said he dragged the man down the hall to safety. Clay said he then alerted the manager and pulled the fire alarm, which he said didn’t work.
“When it didn’t go off, it was very devastating,” he said.
The fire was contained to the apartment where it began and caused $200,000 damage. Smoke damage also spread to the hallway.
Clay never saw the news piece air since he spent the night at a Red Cross shelter. He returned to the building the next day, but is staying in a first floor apartment until the third floor is cleaned.
He also made it into work that day. “It makes my time go by,” he said. “ … I enjoy doing my work — maintaining and detailing cars.”
“I’m glad I could help,” said Clay. “If it wasn’t for me, he’d a been dead.”
According to the fire department’s public information officer, the Fire Marshal is investigating why the fire alarm did not work. She also said she heard that someone alerted residents of the building about the fire, but she did not know their identity.
Island Boys & Girls Club lauded
Teens from the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club Keystone Club program periodically distribute food and clothing to homeless people in downtown Seattle.
They also make bi-monthly trips to Children’s Hospital in that city where they do arts and crafts and other projects with children who are patients there.
And the Keystone teens put on programs, dances and basketball and dodgeball tournaments for their peers, said Jeremy Peck, development director for the club.
The teens’ efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Because of their work, the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club received the 2005 National Merit Award for Program Excellence for Character and Leadership Development from the club’s headquarters in Atlanta.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Todd Bale, the local club’s executive director “It’s a tremendous award.”
The club was selected from more than 2,000 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, and it was awarded $1,000.
Bale said he is impressed with the teens’ efforts.
“I am totally blown away by their level of commitment,” he said. “ … How much they do above and beyond as far as selfless service — it’s a mind-boggling deal.”
The club at 2825 West Mercer Way has more than 2,000 members.
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