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UPDATE: Fire damages north Columbia apartment

Sunday, March 13, 2011 | 4:52 p.m. CDT

 COLUMBIA — A blaze consumed the first floor of a north Columbia four-plex 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. Fire Department investigators at the scene were still investigating the cause of the fire.

As the fire crew approached the scene, smoke was visible more than a mile away at the intersection of Paris Road and Vandiver Drive, according to a Fire Department news releases.

The most damage was to 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 that were affected.

A damage estimate is not currently available, the release said.

“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 — ages 8, 10 and 14 —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. When she reached the stairs, she encountered thick smoke, according to the press release.

“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. The Columbia-Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the Evans, according to the release.


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