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Apartment building catches fire twice in a year

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | 4:16 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Early Wednesday morning, an apartment building in south Columbia caught fire for the second time in a year, said Capt. Eric Hartman of the Columbia Fire Department. There were no injuries.

Laura Rezek, a resident of apartment 8 in the building at 1909 Waverly Court, awoke to heavy smoke and an “orange glow” coming from her bathroom, Hartman said. She evacuated the apartment and called 911 for help.

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The first firetruck arrived at the scene at 5:26 a.m. Wednesday. The emergency vehicles on the scene included five fire trucks, one ambulance and four officers.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was coming from the building. The flames inside the bathroom of apartment 8 were extinguished within 10 minutes, Hartman said. Firefighters used electric fans to remove the remaining smoke from the apartment and used thermal-imaging cameras to ensure the apartment was clear of any hidden flames.

Hartman said the fire in the bathroom was caused by the improper disposal of a cigarette in the bathroom wastebasket.

Although no one was injured in the fire, the apartment had significant smoke damage and fire damage in the bathroom. The damage is estimated at $5,000 and the occupant did not have renters insurance

According to Hartman, smoke alarms were installed in the apartment but failed to operate during the fire.

In July 2008, another fire occurred at the same apartment building. That fire was caused by an unattended barbecue grill, and it resulted in damage to apartments 3 and 7, as well as to an exterior wooden deck.

The apartment building is managed by Callahan and Galloway Property Management and owned by Richard and Margaret Poe, Hartman said.


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