Monday, March 29, 1999

17 homeless in $400,000 fire


Men had tried to squelch fire themselves

BY TOM O'NEILL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If fire breaks out, call 911. Then get out. Don't battle it yourself. That's the lesson from a fire that swept through a Mount Auburn apartment building late Saturday, causing $400,000 in damage and injuring one firefighter.

        The three-alarm fire at 273 McCormick Place was blamed on unattended candles, Cincinnati District Fire Chief Glenn Coleman said Sunday.

        It left 17 residents homeless. The Red Cross was assisting them, but the agency did not release where the residents were staying.

        The third-floor apartment where the blaze originated belonged to Charles Wade.

        Chief Coleman said Mr. Wade, who is in his 20s, moved in earlier the day of the fire, but electricity was not turned on.

        Mr. Wade apparently put two candles on cardboard boxes and left to talk with a friend downstairs. The two returned to discover the fire shortly before 10 a.m; the candles had ignited the boxes.

        Mr. Wade said he and the other man battled the fire 10 to 15 minutes before calling firefighters.

        The delay was costly, fire officials said, because the fire had spread throughout the 13-unit structure. It was condemned Sunday morning.

        “The first thing you do is call 911,” Chief Coleman said. “Call us and get out. We might have been able to confine it to the one unit. He said he made a mistake.” Mr. Ward was unavailable for comment.

        Residents escaped without injury.

        One firefighter, Curtis Chandler, fell 15 feet from a garage roof and was treated at University Hospital for minor injuries and released.

        Firefighters were on McCormick Place for four hours, but Chief Coleman said the intensity of the fire forced firefighters out of the building.

       



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