Neighbors extinguish apartment fire

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | 6:24 p.m. CDT; updated 6:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two neighbors noticed and extinguished a fire at Riverwalk Apartments on Wednesday before Columbia firefighters had even arrived on the scene.

The fire was contained to one apartment, No. 203, of the complex located at 1621 Ashland Road. The resident, Katherine Brown, 54, was taken by ambulance to University Hospital with third-degree burns on her hands and arms.

Brian Lucas, one of Brown's neighbors, said he responded to the scene when he "heard the fire alarms going off and her screaming, asking for help." He said he then went outside and saw that the apartment and its occupant were on fire.

At that time, another neighbor, Darius Hays, pulled up; the two put out the fire with a nearby portable fire extinguisher.

"We were lucky we had the fire extinguisher, and it's lucky we were here," Lucas said.

The first fire truck was on the scene in four-and-a-half minutes, said Capt. Eric Hartman of the Columbia Fire Department. According to a news release, fire crews saw light smoke coming from the apartment, but the fire had already been extinguished when they arrived.

The fire was contained to the kitchen, the release said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Hartman said the fire caused approximately $1,500 worth of damage to the apartment.

Brown is currently in fair condition at University Hospital.


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