Thursday, March 08, 2001

Light blamed in fire

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A ceiling light fixture caused the fire two weeks ago that killed three co-workers in Corryville.

        The men could not get out their usual way because the fire, in an entryway, filled the stairway with smoke and flames, said Capt. Dan Rottmueller, fire investigator.

        “That was their only way out,” he said.

        Stairways act like chimneys in fires, shooting the heaviest smoke upward. That meant second- and third-floor occupants had trouble getting out, he said. A first-floor resident was able to escape.

        Killed were Don Davidson, 57, Cossie Chandler, 38, and Jason Russell. All the victims worked for Towne Taxi in Roselawn. Another resident escaped by jumping out into a tree and climbing down.

        The three-alarm fire caused $70,000 damage to the Stetson Street apartment house Feb. 23.

        Firefighters said they struggled with “nearly impossible circumstances” because the fire had spread throughout all three floors. Capt. Rottmueller said paneling, carpeting and wall coverings contributed to the fire's spread.

        Firefighters found doors nailed shut, but the investigator said those were only in a first-floor apartment and did not contribute to the fatalities.


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