Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Two hurt fighting Middletown fire

Apartment complex damage is $100,000

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Fire investigators say an arson blaze heavily damaged an apartment complex on Helton Drive and slightly injured two firefighters early Monday.

        “It's definitely arson,” Middletown Fire Marshal Jeff Spaulding said. “It appears that some kind of flammable or combustible material was applied and ignited.”

        Fire crews were called to the Shady Creek Apartments in the 3900 block of Helton just after 1 a.m. and found the open stairway leading to apartments on all three levels engulfed in flames.

        The fire started in a vacant apartment at the end of the second floor of the 30-unit structure, Mr. Spaulding said.

        Damage is expected to top $100,000.

        Middletown firefighters David Pittman, 28, and Jason Meischke, 23, sustained minor injuries when a portion of the stairway fell on them, a fire report said. They were treated at Middletown Regional Hospital and released.

        Mr. Spaulding said investigators have identified several possible suspects. No arrests had been made.

        Resident Chad Sebald, 25, had just gone to bed when he heard someone yelling that the building was on fire. He said he barely made it down the burning stairway.

        “I made it out with 10 seconds to spare,” he said. “I saw (fire) come up from the bottom floor. The whole (stairway) was covered in smoke.”

        There were 25 occupied apartments in the building. The Middletown Area Chapter of the American Red Cross had helped 18 displaced families, said Chuck Luksic, disaster volunteer coordinator.

        Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Middletown Fire Department at 425-7996.


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