Electical System Blamed For Condo Fire

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From the Roanoke Times at www.roanoke.com

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Electrical system blamed for condo fire

No people or pets were injured in Tuesday’s fire, in the Crystal Spring area of South Roanoke.By Lindsey Nair 981-3334The Roanoke Times e-mail this story Printer friendly version
An overheated electrical system caused the fire at a South Roanoke condominium building on Tuesday, and damage is expected to top a half-million dollars, officials said Wednesday.
Roanoke Fire Marshal Marlan Morris said the two-alarm fire at Olde Georgetown of Crystal Spring condominiums at South Jefferson and 23rd streets originated in the space between the attic floor and the third-floor ceiling. Personal items stored in the attic added to the fuel load, he said.
Fire investigators may
never know with certainty what caused the fire, which injured no people or pets. But all other possibilities were ruled out, leaving faulty wiring as the only logical explanation, Morris said.
Firefighters responded to the blaze about 5:20 p.m. to find flames and heavy, black smoke churning into the sky. The fire was under control within about 40 minutes.
Three of the six condos sustained heavy heat, smoke and water damage; the other three were “relatively unscathed” except for smoke damage to contents, Morris said. Items stored in the attic were either lost or significantly damaged.
American Red Cross spokeswoman Amy Whittaker said members of a disaster relief team assessed the damage Wednesday and were not sure exactly how many people were displaced, but they estimated seven to 10.
The Red Cross has offered assistance to the victims, but the one person who accepted a hotel room for Tuesday night never checked in, she said.
Condo owner Carole Lougheed, whose 89-year-old mother, Winnifred Dunn, lives in her condo, said residents could not get in to take stock of the damage Wednesday.
“I’m not looking forward to going in when we can go in,” she said. “I don’t think it is going to be a pretty sight. We have all our treasures in there.”
Still, Lougheed said it was a blessing that no one was injured. She also said her mother, who was recovering from surgery at the time of the fire, took the news well.
Roanoke Fire-EMS Deputy Chief of Operations Ralph Tartaglia said Wednesday that his men “took a beating” making sure the building did not burn to the ground. Roanoke Fire-EMS Station No. 8 is just blocks away, so the first crews arrived quickly.
“The firemen were right on top of it,” Lougheed said. “I’m glad we have such a wonderful fire service.”
Morris said electrical wiring flaws can occur in any building. The wiring in the 18-year-old condo building was fairly young, but flaws in materials or rodents chewing on wiring can cause problems. Smoky smells and flickering or dimming lights are signs of a possible wiring problem.

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