Child warns of fireA fire early Tuesday morning at an apartment building located at 424 Second Ave. S.W. displaced six people and caused an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 in damage. Fire officials say the situation would have been much worse if it weren’t for the action of a 3 1/2-year-old boy. “The fire started in the bedroom area,” said Jim Reuther, Jamestown fire chief. “The woman was not in the bedroom but was alerted by her 3 1/2-year-old child. Basically the child saved their lives.”
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A fire early Tuesday morning at an apartment building located at 424 Second Ave. S.W. displaced six people and caused an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 in damage. Fire officials say the situation would have been much worse if it weren’t for the action of a 3 1/2-year-old boy.
“The fire started in the bedroom area,” said Jim Reuther, Jamestown fire chief. “The woman was not in the bedroom but was alerted by her 3 1/2-year-old child. Basically the child saved their lives.”
The mother has been identified as Lisa Church who lived in the apartment with her son Iziaya. Living in the apartment above them was Lisa’s mother, Crystal Church.
“After the child woke his mother he went upstairs and woke his grandmother,” Reuther said.
The building was described as a 1930s-era home now used as four apartment units. The fire started in the bedroom area of the main floor apartment in the front of the building. Reuther said there were no working smoke detectors in the apartment. While smoke detectors are mandatory when a new tenant moves into an apartment maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant.
“When we got there heavy fire was coming out of the front or east side of the building,” he said. “By the time we arrived all the tenants had been evacuated.”
Tenants in the rear of the building were alerted by Lisa Church.
“I woke up about 6 a.m. and was just falling back asleep,” said Todd Diede, a resident of the building. “We heard the neighbors running around and went out to look and saw smoke everywhere. Lisa came around and said there was a fire and we needed to get out.”
Diede and his roommate grabbed a few belongings.
“That is all we took time for,” said Kim Rebel. “We grabbed a few things and got out.”
The heaviest damage occurred in the front of the building.
“There is smoke damage throughout the building,” Reuther said. “And the lower level apartment in the front is burned out with some damage to the second-floor apartment.”
Diede and Rebel were allowed to go back into their apartment.
“Our place is not too bad,” Diede said. “Just smoke damage, but we can’t stay there for the time being.”
Reuther said utilities to the building were disconnected, making the building uninhabitable at this time.
“We gave everyone comfort kits,” said Beth Dewald, executive director of the Buffalo Valley Chapter of the Red Cross. “We gave the family in the front that lost everything vouchers for food and clothing. We didn’t have to find shelter for anyone; everyone is staying with family or friends.”
The cause of the fire is listed as undetermined at this time, Reuther said.
“The tenant remembers leaving a candle lit the night before,” he said. “It is also possible it started with an electrical cord at the base of the bed. We can’t determine the start of the fire because of the amount of fire damage.”
Reuther said incidents like this should remind people about fire safety.
“Smoke detectors are inexpensive,” he said. “Make sure you have them. And this is the time of the year people burn more candles. Don’t leave them unattended.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org