WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) – Residents of a Washington County apartment complex that caught fire last week were evacuated on Wednesday after authorities said a smoke detector connected to sixth-floor elevators had failed inspection.
Arthur Keys, chairman of the board of the Thomas Campbell apartment complex, said an elevator inspection was carried out on Wednesday and a smoke detector was not responding. He said that in an emergency the elevators would continue to operate rather than going to the first floor, which is unsafe for residents.
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Keys said they decided it was the best decision to evacuate the residents and transport them to the Suburban Extended Stay in Washington County, a few miles away.
Food and transportation were provided to residents. Keys said it took about an hour and a half to evacuate everyone from inside.
Residents of 56 units were displaced by the fire on December 23, and a 78-year-old resident died three days later.
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Keys said 124 residents lived in the building. He said those on the first floor could stay in their units as they did not need to use the elevator.
KDKA got an exclusive glimpse inside of where the fire started on the sixth floor. The walls and doors were covered with black soot and the smell of smoke still lingered.
An official said the water damage mainly affected apartments on the first to fourth floors. The fifth, sixth and seventh floors were damaged by smoke. Two apartments were completely destroyed.
Keys said restoration efforts began the same day after the fire was extinguished.
Elevator repairs were underway on Wednesday evening. Keys said a follow-up inspection is scheduled for Thursday. He hopes to pass the inspection and bring the residents back.
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There is no timeline on how long it could take before all damaged parts are repaired after the fire.