Anderw Holleran / Photo editor
When Matthew Sass and his roommates first heard their fire alarm early Monday morning, they weren’t too worried, but by the time the ordeal was over, about 30 tenants had been displaced from the complex.
At about 3:30 a.m. Monday, tenants in the apartment complex at 2135 Iuka Ave. were disturbed by a fire alarm and shortly after, they noticed smoke in the hallway.
“At first we didn’t think it was going to be anything big, so we just took a few things and left, but as we got outside, we noticed the side of the complex. There was a big blaze coming from the side of the building,” said Sass, a fourth-year in electrical and computer engineering.
Sass lived on the third floor, down the hall from the apartment where the fire started. While firefighters have not yet determined how the fire spread within the complex, they speculate that it was caused by a grill located on the balcony. A representative from the Columbus Division of Fire said Monday afternoon that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
10TV reported the fire likely started on a balcony and will likely be ruled accidental. It also reported that damage is estimated near $200,000.
Sass’ parents came to pick him up after the incident, but he said other tenants were not as fortunate. They were displaced somewhere else, since the damage was too severe for them to return to their apartments.
Sass said they were told that they wouldn’t be able to move back any time soon, and definitely not before the end of the semester.
“It’s upsetting that this had to happen and it’s unfortunate, ’cause now I have to arrange to replace things that are damaged, finding a new place to live, everyone has to do that now,” Sass said.
Eric Schultz, a fourth-year in mathematics, lived on the second floor of the apartment. He sought refuge at a friends house for the indefinite amount of time before he’s allowed back into his apartment, which he said didn’t receive as much damage as some units on the third floor. Despite the inconvenience, life goes on.
“It’s kind of just like disbelief that our entire apartment building caught on fire last night,” he said. “It’s kind of a big deal, but still got things to do.”
Schultz said he had gone home for the weekend but came back Sunday night, just hours before the he was awoken by noises upstairs.
“I thought it was people having a party at first, but it sounded really panicked,” he said. “You could hear the smoke alarm going off upstairs and I just grabbed a few things like my backpack and my computer and got out … There was probably only about 15 of us in the building at the time, and we just sat outside and watched it go up.”
OSU Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said in an email that Student Life’s Student Advocacy Center was on the scene of the fire Monday morning and worked with the Red Cross to provide emergency housing.
Isaacs said it will “be working on behalf of the residents” to help with immediate needs such as notifying professors about the incident.
Most students have short-term housing lined up, and Isaacs said “Student Life will work with them as needed for long term assistance.”
At about 3:30 p.m. Monday, Isaacs said all student residents had been taken care of, and Student Advocacy was attempting to provide assistance and housing to those who might have been out of town for the weekend.
Schultz said he had received a few emails from his landlord that said the extent of the damage was still unknown and they weren’t sure when tenants would be allowed to move back in.
Steve Moberger, the complex’s landlord, did not return requests for comment.
Ally Marotti contributed to this article.