45 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2011.
Walking through her duplex just days after the fire, Alainna Ipjian said her former home reminded her of the sunken Titanic. Instead of searching for the “heart of the ocean” diamond, Ipjian went in and retrieved her Tiffany’s necklace, the only belonging of hers the fire hadn’t destroyed.
About midnight Jan. 16, the duplex at 91-93 W. Northwood Ave. caught fire. The blaze severely damaged the 93 W. Northwood Ave. side of the duplex and 91 W. Northwood Ave. had smoke damage.
The tenants of 93 W. Northwood Ave. were Ipjian, a fourth-year in nursing, Meredith Conine, a third-year in nursing and Michelle Schroeder, a second-year in nursing. The tenants of the opposite side of the duplex were Valerie Johns, a fourth-year in health science, Megan Johnson, a fourth-year in human development and family sciences and Addie Payne, a fourth-year in microbiology.
Earlier on the night of Jan. 16, Ipjian was spending time with friends. She recalls taking her popcorn bowl to the kitchen at about 11:51 p.m., passing through her family room to watch a few seconds of the movie “Meet the Fockers” and going upstairs to brush her teeth.
“I smelled something, but didn’t think anything of it because we recently had some problems with our gas that ended up being nothing,” Ipjian said.
Soon after, the smoke detector started going off.
“I walked down the steps and smoke was just bellowing up and the front two rooms were on fire,” Ipjian said.
The only one home at the time, Ipjian said her first instinct was to grab the TV. Instead, she took her laptop and left the house.
“We have two entrances to our house, one in the front and one in the back. My first instinct was to go out the front door, which I guess wasn’t the smartest thing since I had to walk right past the fire,” Ipjian said.
After leaving the house, she went next door to wake up her neighbors and after no response went across the street to a friend’s house and a neighbor called 911. Ipjian then walked back to the fire and was able to get the group of women on the other side of the duplex out by knocking on their door.
Payne lived on the other side of the duplex but was down the street at a friend’s house when the fire started.
Payne had a friend from out of town staying with her who was in the duplex at the time of fire.
“My phone was on silent, so she ran down the street and burst in the house to tell to us that the house was on fire,” Payne said.
Payne remembers walking down the street to find fire trucks, smoke and Ipjian standing in the street with one shoe on.
Ipjian ran outside with no shoes on and Johns went back inside the duplex next to the one on fire to grab her Uggs, Ipjian said.
After seeing Ipjian in bare feet, Johns offered her the other Ugg boot.
Looking on at the fire, thoughts began rushing through the heads of the former residents.
“My first thought was my 32-inch flat-screen that I just got for Christmas is gone,” Ipjian said.
Payne had other concerns.
“None of us have renters insurance; we’re screwed,” Payne said. “That was my thought, we’re screwed.”
All but one of the residents in the duplex ended up being covered by their parents’ homeowners insurance.
“We were covered because we were still dependents,” Payne said.
The American Red Cross met the residence at the scene, their landlord and Karen Kyle, the director of the Student Advocacy Center at Ohio State.
The Red Cross provided the residents with a two-night stay at the Holiday Inn in downtown Columbus, and a care package with all the necessary toiletries.
“We didn’t have anything,” Payne said. “I still don’t have anything; I’m waiting on all of my clothes to be cleaned.”
Residents of the 91 W. Northwood side of the duplex salvaged some of their belongings with the help of professional cleaning.
The opposite side of the duplex suffered severe damage and residents were able to recover few, if any, of their belongings.
The tenants of the duplex lived temporarily in a property their landlord provided and are seeking permanent off-campus living arrangements.