Meridian Star

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December 29, 2012

Fire damages apartment structure

MERIDIAN —     Two people were able to escape a fire Friday afternoon that damaged an old home in Meridian that was being used as an apartment building.

    Meridian Fire Department Chief Anthony Clayton said the two residents of the apartment building located at 709 28th Ave., were not hurt as they left the building before it was quickly engulfed in heavy, dark gray smoke.

    Firefighters arrived on the scene just a minute after the initial alarm was sounded at about 12:15 p.m. When they arrived firefighters found the building filled with smoke and a fire smoldering in the attic area. Firefighters entering the home to search for possible victims were met by many obstacles.

    "These apartments are not laid out like more modern apartment complexes," Clayton said. "There are a lot of blind corners and dead end hallways that cause the firemen to backtrack and go in another direction."

    While teams of firefighters searched the home, other teams went about trying to pin down the exact location of the fire and extinguish it before it ran unchecked through the wood frame home.

    "These homes are old and pre-date the use of fire stops in the walls," Clayton pointed out. "That makes it hard for firefighters to get ahead of the fire and get it put out."

    Fire stops are built into the walls of modern homes and buildings with the purpose of keeping the flames from running up the interior sections of walls. Clayton said the firefighters had to cut holes in some walls to get to locations  where the flames were possibly originating.

    The only flames seen from the outside came from an attic vent on the north side of the home. Firefighters, armed with axes, chain saws and water hoses, quickly scaled ladders to the roof so they could cut a hole to get to the flames. In a very short time white smoke, signaling that the flames had been extinguished, could be seen coming from the area of the fire.

    There were four apartments in the building. Residents of the two lower apartments were not at home at the time of the incident.

    There were no injuries to firefighters or other emergency personnel.

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