Friday, October 08, 1999

Tenants jump and run to safety


Six escape after fire goes up wall

BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As flames shot up the side of their Mount Auburn apartment building, the tenants helped each other through the heat and smoke to safety.

        All six residents in the building at 1814 Sycamore St. escaped unharmed, one jumping into the arms of her neighbors from a roof. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the two-alarm blaze. The building remained intact.

        The fire appeared to have started about 6:35 p.m. in the back of the building near the apartment entrances.

        “All of a sudden we heard these screams,” said Beatrice Jordan, who lived on the bottom floor of the three-story building. She and her husband, Arthur, own the building and have lived there for 47 years. They rent the upper floors to tenants.

        Finding their telephone unusable, they made it outside to see their tenants helping each other out of the building. Flames shot up the side of the house, causing a pillar of smoke visible for blocks.

        A passing motorist, a WLWT-TV (Channel 5) videographer on his lunch break, saw the fire and used his two-way radio to call his station, which summoned help. Ms. Jordan thanked those who called, helping to save her home from more serious damage.

        “There was a wall of flames up the side of the building,” said Kevin Luginbill, the videographer. He heard the screams of two female tenants in the third-floor apartment and they scrambled to get out.

        One made it down a fire escape. The other, who identified herself as Treva, went out a second-floor window onto a lower roof and jumped into the arms of her second-floor neighbors, Merrill Johnson and Jack Sawyer.

        “We all made it,” Mr. Sawyer said.

        Cincinnati firefighters were investigating the blaze late Thursday night. The residents smelled gasoline and wondered whether they were the targets of an arsonist. Fire investigators could not be reached for comment on the cause of the blaze.

       



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