4 displaced after blaze downtown

Staff Reports

An electrical fire forced the evacuation of residents from four apartments units near downtown Columbus.

At 10:16 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were called to 811 Pearl St. after a resident called 911 to report a possible fire in the home’s attic. Firefighters found light smoke coming from the eaves of the multifamily occupancy, according to a Columbus Fire Department news release.

The 911 caller, Wade Baxter, told firefighters that he was just about to go to bed when he noticed discoloration of the ceiling in the kitchen of his second-floor apartment. He told firefighters that he could also feel heat in that area of the apartment.

Baxter told firefighters that he called 911 and exited the apartment. Columbus police officers patrolling in the area alerted the other apartment’s occupants to the possibility of a fire. A total of four residents were evacuated. No injuries were reported, the news release stated.

Firefighters entered Baxter’s apartment and found what appeared to be burnt electrical wiring from a light fixture in the ceiling of the kitchen.

Firefighters discovered flames in the void space of the attic and applied water. Two timber beams had significant fire damage and firefighters used a chain saw to remove the damaged sections of the boards. Embers were still visible on the timber boards as they were removed, the fire department said.

A working smoke alarm was discovered in Baxter’s apartment, the fire department said. Electrical service to the home, built in 1900 and owned by Sprague Rentals LLC, of Columbus, has been disconnected.

Four of the six apartments in the building were occupied. The American Red Cross assisted three individuals with temporary shelter. One individual is staying with family.

Damages to the building were concentrated to Baxter’s apartment and are estimated at $15,000. Baxter told firefighters that he does not have renter’s insurance, the fire department said.

Columbus Regional Heath EMS, the American Red Cross, Duke Energy, Columbus City Utilities and the Columbus Police Department assisted at the scene.