BLANCHESTER — The fire that struck a Blanchester apartment building Monday was the fourth fire there within a month, according to the Blanchester-Marion Township Fire Department, and in the same apartment, according to tenant Traevon Williams.
Blanchester Fire Chief Don Walker said the cause of Monday’s fire has yet to be determined by investigators from the Ohio Fire Marshal, but three other fires within the last month at the same apartment were all electrical fires.
Walker said the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office is sending investigators to continue looking into the reason Monday’s fire occurred.
Williams said that apartment was his neighbor’s.
“It started about a month ago,” said Williams, who is a deputy with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office. He was off duty and returning home when he discovered the fire Monday.
“I came home from work one night and there was a fire in their kitchen,” he said.
Thursday, his apartment was smoky, and his neighbor’s closet’s outlet looked as though it had burned out, he said.
In both incidents, Williams said they called the fire department. Williams said firefighters said the incidents were caused by faulty electrical work that needed fixing.
An electrician arrived Thursday, Williams said, unwired the outlet and disabled a downstairs smoke detector. Monday, shortly after midnight, Williams came home and could hear a smoke detector and see flames in his neighbor’s downstairs living room.
He said his neighbors threw their 3-year-old daughter to him and handed him three other children. The man and his pregnant girlfriend jumped out of the building.
“She pretty much fell out of the window,” Williams said.
The woman sustained bruises, was transported to Clinton Memorial Hospital and was later released.
Walker said there were no other reported injuries, but firefighters did give oxygen at the scene.
Williams then knocked on doors, yelled and kicked open several doors to get people out of the apartment complex.
Williams is upset with Ursula Park LLC, which owns the complex. He said that while the apartment manager herself has been friendly, Ursula Park hasn’t offered to help the people displaced by the fire.
According to Walker, the fire displaced about 20 people.
Ursula Park did not return messages left by the News Journal by press time Tuesday. Williams said Ursula Park management told him they need to finish their own investigation.
The American Red Cross, Williams said, has put them up in Royalton Inn in Wilmington, but that stay ends Wednesday morning. ARC also gave them some money, but Williams said many people will be relying on friends and family.
Compounding issues, Williams said, is that almost no one got any belongings out of their apartments, and some haven’t been able to work since the fire.
“As of now, we haven’t received any help or support from management,” Williams said. “I would think there’s something more they can do.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.