March 29—WEST CHESTER TWP. – Residents and pets were rescued from an apartment fire in West Chester on Monday and the Red Cross said several people used their mental health counseling services after the traumatic incident.
Deputy Fire Chief Randy Hanifen told the Journal-News the fire started at 3:15 p.m. at the Union Station apartments and it took about half an hour for 55 to 60 firefighters to set it down. ‘tear down. Large amounts of smoke were rising and could be seen on nearby Interstate 75.
He said around 18 people from six apartments in the 10-unit building and two dogs were rescued unharmed.
“One apartment was what we would consider major or total damage. Probably two of the adjacent apartments were significantly affected and beyond that everything else was just water damage,” Hanifen said. ‘Unfortunately, because the large fire started on the third floor, it is working its way through the building as we put water in the building.’
He said the owners of the apartments and the Red Cross have been working to find places either in vacant apartments within the complex or in other accommodation.
Marita Salkowski, director of marketing for the American Red Cross’ Central and Southern Ohio Region, told the Journal-News that displaced residents have been given prepaid debit cards to help them buy what they need. might need – food, clothing, shelter and other essentials – to get through the first few days.
She said five of the units had been declared uninhabitable but three people had refused their services. A few people have taken advantage of their disaster mental health services.
“We have licensed therapists who volunteer with the Red Cross and help people deal with the initial trauma of what they witnessed,” Salkowski said. “You can imagine the emotional and mental toll a disaster like this takes on you.”
There was some confusion following the fire over reports that some dogs had died, Hanifin said “all the dogs survived”.
“The real story is that all of the dogs survived,” Hanifen said. “The dog that was there, we left him in his crate because he seemed a lot happier until the owner came to pick him up. He was happy and stable where he was, so we just took him left alone. He didn’t seem too happy that we were there.”
Hanifen said they are still investigating the cause internally and have not called the state fire marshal.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary, they’re just doing their due diligence,” Hanifen said. “Unfortunately the investigation of the fires is to rule out everything possible in the building before you can say it was exactly that, it just takes time to rule out all that information.”
Lakota schools are working to help their displaced students.
“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Our crisis team is working to help our Lakota families who have been displaced by the fire. We encourage our community to visit the Lakota Neighborhood Bridges website to find out how they can help, including gift cards for food, personal care items and blankets,” said Betsy Fuller, director of school and community relations.