Sunday, January 07, 2001

Dozens displaced by apartment fire




By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PARK HILLS — When Michael Cousino heard the fire alarm in his Cedar Ridge Lane apartment about 7:45 p.m. Friday night, he grabbed his girlfriend's $20,000 harp and skedaddled.

        Saturday, as fire investigators continued to sift through the remains of one gutted apartment and assess damage to others, Mr. Cousino and dozens of other tenants waited to get back into the building to salvage their belongings.

        His girlfriend, Katy Mawer, was out of town at the time of the fire. But her parents came from Oxford to help Mr. Cousino move out of the charred 42-unit building, which fire officials said now is uninhabitable.

        “We'll try to get a truck as soon as we find out when we can get in. Hopefully, there will be some non-soggy things in there,” said Mary Alice Mawer.

        “I guess I'll find a paper and start looking for another place to move,” Mr. Cousino added.

        At least 36 residents, many of them single renters, were forced to search for housing after the blaze gutted a third-floor apartment and left about 41 others damaged by smoke and water.

        Fire officials said 36 apartments were occupied at the time of the fire, but only one person — an unidentified man who had lived in the burned-out apartment where the fire started in the dining room — was treated for smoke inhalation.

        He was released from the hospital, and Park Hills Fire Chief Dennis Finke said he hoped to talk to the man Saturday to determine the cause of the blaze.

        The American Red Cross provided shelter to 24 residents and will open a service center for fire victims at 8:30 a.m. today at 7723 Mall Road in Florence,said Chris Barlow, a spokesman for the agency's Cincinnati office.

        Fire victims may call 513-579-3955.

       



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