Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Smoke inundated the residential area northeast of Lane Avenue and High Street as the second apartment complex in the campus area to catch fire in less than 24 hours burned.
Unlike the fire that ravaged 144 E. Norwich Avenue Tuesday morning that left two victims in critical condition, the fire that struck the duplex at 2117-2119 Summit St. before 1 a.m. Wednesday caused no injuries.
Battalion chief Rick Artrip of the Columbus Division of Fire said all 10-12 residents in the duplex were displaced.
“I don’t think anybody’s gonna be able to stay there,” Artrip said. “There was some pretty good smoke damage.”
Sonya Fincher, a fourth-year in criminology and sociology, lives on the second floor of the duplex.
“I was sleeping and I heard somebody knock on the door,” Fincher said. “We saw smoke in the basement, so we thought it was in the basement, but we came out and it was the whole top floor.”
Timothy Davidson was with Fincher when someone knocked on the door.
“We smelled the smoke for a minute before we even knew it was on fire,” he said.
Artrip said the cause of the fire is not known. There is not yet an estimated damage cost. He also said they do not know where the fire started, but he believes it began in the attic of the two-and-a-half floor duplex.
Although Artrip and other fire department representatives agreed they didn’t think this fire was related to the one on Norwich, Artrip said arson is never ruled out.
“We always suspect (arson), but usually we just call an investigator to look into it,” Artrip said. “I don’t see how they’re related just yet.”
American Red Cross representatives were also on the scene, but few of the residents accepted relief because they had family or friends nearby they could stay with.
Artrip said a dog was also rescued from the blaze. Ladder 13 got the dog out of the house, and medics quickly put a mask on the dog and resuscitated it. Neighbors were watching the dog as firefighters continued work.
“That’s the highlight of the story, I guess,” Artrip said.
The engulfing smoke and flashing lights drew a crowd on Summit and four to five units from the Columbus Division of Police temporarily restricted traffic in the area.
“We work in tandem with the (fire department) for suspicious conduct, controlling the crowd,” said Sgt. Eric David, “all that stuff.”
Abbey Howman, a second-year at Ohio Business College who lives off of 18th Avenue and Summit, said her sister lives three houses down from the duplex that caught fire.
“We were at my house and a bunch of fire trucks and everything started going down the street, so I looked outside to make sure it wasn’t her house,” she said.
When Howman’s sister wouldn’t answer her phone, she got worried.
“Me and my roommate, we were sprinting down here,” Howman said.
The fire did not affect the surrounding houses. Although some of the duplex’s residents were in tears, Howman said she was glad no one was injured.
One fire department representative said the time of the fire was fortunate. Had it been any later, the response might not have been so quick and successful. But Davidson said he didn’t think the timing was ideal.
“Couldn’t happen at a better time,” he said, “during finals week.”