Building evacuated by fire
Kim Dickerson had only just woken up this morning and was getting around to waking her son up when the fire alarm went off at about 9:46 a.m. today at an apartment complex at 210 E. 14th St. in Washington.
She said that the first time the alarm went off resulted in no sign of a fire. Dickerson went into the hallway of the apartment she had lived in since Nov. 1 to find the cause of the alarm. Dickerson said there was no sign of anything amiss.
Dickerson headed back into her apartment to continue her morning routine when the fire alarm went off again. This time, upon sticking her head out the door into the hallway, she saw a plume of black smoke pouring out from behind the door of her neighbor’s apartment.
“I called 911 right away,” Dickerson said. “My son James and I ran around and knocked on every door and got everyone out.”
Watching the blaze from the parking lot this morning, Dickerson said that she did not believe the fire had spread to her apartment. She said there might be some smoke damage as a result of the fire. Many of the tenants watched Washington firefighters bring hoses in to fight the flames that caused a wall of black smoke to flow into the cold March morning air. The lack of winter clothing on many of the onlookers was testimony to the speed with which they left the building.
Crystal Dalton stood in the doorway of a garage across the parking lot from her apartment. Her stocking feet showed that she had left the building in a hurry. One of her neighbors brought out some sheets for her to stand on in the 40-degree air. She confirmed that the fire had started in her apartment.
“I dozed off while there was a pan of grease on the stove,” she said. “I woke up and smelled smoke. I didn’t realize what was going on until I looked over. There were flames on the floor and on the stove.”
Her first reaction was to get out of the apartment and then to warn others living in her building.
Dalton said that the fire had only been in her kitchen when she saw the flames. She said that Dickerson knocking on her door had woken her up.
Asst. Fire Chief Craig Rembold, who was in charge of the scene, said that the flames had climbed the wall behind the stove to the ceiling by the time the fire department arrived. He said the ceiling was coming down. Rembold said the apartment above the fire, as well as many of the other apartments, sustained smoke and heat damage.
“The apartment is totally uninhabitable,” Rembold said. “They will have to redo the apartment and some of the surrounding apartments.”
He said that the fire crew arrived and began extinguishing the blaze. It took about 10 minutes for the fire to be extinguished.
Washington County Red Cross was contacted to provide housing for some of the people from the building.
Rembold said that cooking fires are common. He suggests people keep a close watch on cooking.
“Be vigilant,” he said.