Fatal fire survivors recount escape from Springfield Twp. condo complex
Mon, 26 Mar 2012 23:53:54 GMT —
Authorities spent most of the day, on Monday, sifting through what used to be Building G at the Hidden Cedars condominium complex in Springfield Township.
â??Iâ??ve never seen a fire level a building like that,â?? victim of the fire Ryan Glaze said of the estimated $1 million in damages.
The blaze, which was first reported just after 11 p.m. on Sunday night, was deemed â??under controlâ?? a little over 3 hours after fire crews arrived at the scene.
â??There were people over there screaming in massive pain,â?? witness Chilo Reyez said.
Dozens of residents in the building were able to make it out, but the blaze claimed the lives of 2 people and injured at least two others.
â??I could hear everyone screaming and I started going down the stairs. I couldnâ??t breathe,â?? Dynasty Darden recalled of her escape from the building.
Darden believes that one of those that died in the fire was her grandfather 61-year-old Robert McGhee.
I think he was trying to go back in the house and save my mom, but I was trying to grab him and tell him to come on,â?? Darden said.
According to witnesses at the scene, the other victim is believed to be 58-year-old Olandia Keith Dixon.
Fire officials say they were unable to immediately determine the sex or race of the victims, adding that the corner would make positive identification, but believe that everyone else in the building has been accounted for.
Later in the day, a K-9 unit out of Cleveland was brought to the scene to do a search of the rubble to make sure there were no other victims inside.
Many of those that lived in the building were able to escape by jumping from their balcony.
â??I went out first. I jumped from the 3rd balcony [then] my mom did and everyone else did. The building just went up in flames,â?? fire victim Michael Downton said.
Those that did make it out, without serious injury, may have made it out alive but without anything else.
â??All of our stuff is goneâ?¦ weâ??re staying at my granddadâ??s house now,â?? Downton added.
The Red Cross is also providing boarding for around 3 dozen others that lived in the buildingâ??s six units.
Investigators are now tasked with trying to find out what caused the devastating loss.
â??Every fire that we have, we always take [suspicious circumstances] into consideration. One thing I am concerned about, as the fire chief, is how quickly it spread on us,â?? Springfield Township Fire Chief Barry Cousino said.
Fire officials have already determined that there were working smoke detectors in the building but say other factors may have made the building more susceptible to fire.
â??It was [built] prior to any advanced fire codes that have been enacted in the 80â??sâ?¦they donâ??t have any suppression systems or sprinklers,â?? Cousino added.
According to authorities, the most recent blaze is now the fourth major fire at Hidden Cedars in the past 12 years.
In October 2009, a massive fire gutted most of the 18-unit building J.
That fire left more than 30 people without a home but no one was hurt.
3 years earlier, in February 2006, a fast moving fire leveled a 16 unit building at the same complex.
Everyone in building B along with residents in adjoining buildings to the complex had to be evacuated as flames shot 20 feet into the air.
Two people were injured in that fire which caused about 2 million dollars in damage.
Finally in 2000, a fire destroyed a 20 unit building at Hidden Cedars.
Fire Chief Barry Cousino said while he would be making recommendations to the condo complex, in the coming days, he was unaware of his authority to â??shut it downâ??.
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