Fire damages north Columbia apartment

Sunday, March 13, 2011 | 4:12 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A blaze consumed the first floor of a north Columbia apartment and caused damage to adjacent apartments Sunday afternoon.

The Columbia Fire Department responded to a 911 call at 12:57 p.m. about a fire at 3102 Alpine Drive, Fire Department Captain Eric Hartman said.

It took the crew 20 to 25 minutes to control the fire, he said.

No residents were injured. The cause of the fire was still being investigated.

The largest amount of damage occurred on the first floor. The second floor had mainly heat, smoke and water damage. There was a roughly six-foot wide hole on the building’s right side. The A-frame building housed other individual multiple-story apartments.

“As we approached, flames and smoke were coming from two sides of the building,” Fire Department Lieutenant Will Safford said.

Andrea Evans arrived at her daughter's apartment where the fire started to have dinner with her daughter, grandson and granddaughter just before 1 p.m., when she said she saw the three evacuating the building.

Bridgette Evans, Andrea Evans’ daughter, said she was upstairs cooking when the smoke alarm sounded.

“I thought it was just the crazy fire alarm,” she said. “My son said, ‘No, mom. It’s a fire.’ So we got out of the house.”

Because the "crazy fire alarm" generally sounded when there wasn't an actual fire, Bridgette Evans said she was surprised when her son pointed it out.

Carl Ginter, another tenant, said he evacuated the building and turned the water on in his apartment when he smelled smoke.

“The apartment was ablaze,” he said.

Another neighbor, Tony Wilderness, said he evacuated when he smelled smoke on the other side of his closet. His two other roommates were not home at the time.

People displaced by the fire were encouraged to stay with relatives if possible, Hartman said. Assistance would be provided to those needing additional help, he said.

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