Thursday, August 12, 1999

Explosion causes Florence fire

No injuries at condo complex

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Florence firefighters battle blaze at Saddlebrook Apartments.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        FLORENCE — An explosion left a 24-unit, three-story condominium complex engulfed in flames early today.

        Remarkably, authorities said, no one was thought to be injured in the blaze in the Saddlebrook subdivision on Saddlebrook Lane, south of Florence Mall. Witnesses said flames shot at least 20 feet high and could be seen for miles.

        Florence Police Lt. Tim Chesser said officers from at least five fire departments responded to a report of an explosion about 10:50 p.m. Wednesday. Officers immediately went inside to evacuate residents. Lt. Chesser said officers cleared the first floor but were unable to check all the units on the second and third floors of the complex.

        “At this point, we don't think anybody is in there,” Florence Fire Chief Rick Albers said early this morning.

        Chief Albers said there were unconfirmed reports of a natural gas odor at the scene.

        Cindy Flishel has lived at the complex for six months with her two daughters, Sarah, 19, and Amy, 14. They were not at home when the explosion occurred.

        “I followed the fire trucks right in,” Mrs. Flishel said. “Flames were shooting through the roof already.”

        Mrs. Flishel said she thought that 21 of the 24 units were occupied. The year-old complex comprises two-bedroom, two-bath units priced from $70,000 to $95,000. Most have gas fireplaces.

        Standing outside the complex Wednesday night, Mrs. Flishel and her daughters were comforted by friends and relatives as they watched their home burn.

        One firefighter was taken to St. Luke West Hospital in Florence for heat exhaustion.

        Cause of the blaze, as well as damage estimates, were not available this morning.


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