Sunday, February 23, 2003

Firefighters hurt at blaze

Avondale fire follows one at downtown hotel

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two Cincinnati firefighters were injured Saturday morning in a blaze that swept through several third-story apartments in a building in Avondale.

About 50 residents made it out of the building in the rear of 3495 Burnet Ave., at the southwest corner of Rockdale Avenue, after smoke began filling the four-story building shortly after 9 a.m.

The fire was reported as dozens of firefighters were in downtown Cincinnati battling a four-alarm blaze at the Westin Hotel. Many of the same firefighters who handled the Westin fire went directly to the three-alarm fire in Avondale.

By 10:15, about 60 firefighters were on the scene and most of the fire had been knocked down.

District Chief Denny Clark said that one firefighter, Kenyatta Smith of the Winton Place firehouse, suffered scrapes on the knees and chest when a floor collapsed under him. A second firefighter, Mike Engelkamp from a Walnut Hills ladder company, sustained a head injury when a ceiling collapsed on him. Both were treated and released at nearby University Hospital.

Patricia Jackson, a resident, said she was asleep and didn't realize there was a fire until a friend called her second-floor apartment.

"He said, your building's on fire," Ms. Jackson said. "Then I could smell the smoke and I just ran out of there as fast as I could."

Firefighters could not say immediately what caused the fire, which was confined to three apartments. The investigation is continuing.

Nine families were displaced. The Red Cross assisted four.

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