South Strabane apartment complex fire sends 6 people to hospital | News
Six people were hospitalized and several were moved from their homes after a fire early Thursday morning at the Thomas Campbell Apartments in South Strabane Township.
South Strabane Fire Chief Scott Reese said his department received the call shortly before 12:30 a.m.
Reese said that initially the call was for a residential fire alarm, but it turned into a kitchen fire in apartment 613 of the 850 Beech St. apartment complex.
“It probably took about 45 minutes to an hour to get the fire completely under control, and then we started to recover and overhaul,” Reese said.
Reese added that fighting the blaze became difficult once an abundance of smoke and heat crept into the common areas and hallways.
“A lot of people came out to the balcony to let us know where they were,” he said.
Reese said each of the building’s seven floors suffered damage, with the sixth and seventh floors the most affected.
Township director Brandon Stanick said 53 residents had been moved from their apartments.
Arthur Keys, chairman of the board of directors of Thomas Campbell Apartments, added that those who needed to be relocated were taken to the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel on Sheffield Street. The American Red Cross coordinated housing for these people.
“We are working to help all residents get their belongings back and find longer term housing,” Keys said. “We have six people who have been taken to hospital.”
Keys did not comment on the extent of their injuries or condition, but said he was not aware of any deaths.
Stanick said one of the injured was in critical condition Thursday afternoon. He added that the township will help facilitate any residency once the Red Cross arrangements expire.
The plan is to rebuild the damaged apartments to get residents back to their homes as quickly as possible, Keys said.
“We are doing what we can to make sure everything is in tip top shape as soon as possible,” he said. “I don’t know how long it may take, but we hope it will be short term, not long term. We hope this is a short-term dislocation.
Thomas Campbell Apartments provides affordable housing for seniors and currently houses 225 residents in 124 units. There are one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, as well as some efficiencies.
The Thomas Campbell North Apartments and neighboring cabins were not affected by the fire.
A firefighting team was on site Thursday.
“They sort through the mess, document everything,” Keys said.
Reese said the fire was under investigation by the state police fire marshal.
Residents of the apartments actually participated in a fire drill this year with the South Strabane Fire Department. Keys said it had come in handy at the time of the fire.
“It was a very orderly evacuation,” Keys said. “(The residents) were scared, but the training paid off. “
Keys praised the firefighters for their work.
Reese agreed that everyone involved did a great job.
“All of the agencies that responded did a great job,” Reese said. “It took a lot of resources to bring this fire under control. “
South Strabane, Washington, Canton Township, North Strabane and Chartiers Township fire departments all responded to the scene. North Franklin Township was on hold. Emergency medical service personnel were also on site.
The apartment complex celebrated its 50th anniversary in September. The apartments are named after Thomas Campbell, an Irish immigrant who settled in Washington in the early 19th century and founded the Disciples of Christ. The Disciples of Christ are now known as the Christian Church, and the organization continues to sponsor the Thomas Campbell Apartments.
Keys said there was a fire in the complex about a year ago, but it was limited to one unit and there had been no serious damage.
“As far as I know, it was the first major fire,” he said.
Obviously, Keys was sad about the blaze, claiming he grew up in the area.
“I’m not just the chairman of the board, I have parents here,” Keys said. “We pray for the injured.
The fact that the fire occurs just two days before Christmas adds to the emotions that can be felt.
“It makes the Christmas Eve celebration even more important,” Keys said.