Source: The Corydon Democrat

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8 families displaced by apartment fire

by Alan Stewart

November 12, 2013

Eight families and a total of 18 people were displaced from an apartment fire early Friday morning.

According to Jon Saulman, chief of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept., the initial call came in at 12:44 a.m. When firefighters arrived at the 48-unit Autumn Ridge apartment complex near General Drive north of Corydon, an eight-unit apartment building, which is owned by Blue River Services Inc., was completely engulfed. Nearly every fire department in the county responded to the scene to battle the blaze, Saulman said.

"The fire started up high and pretty much destroyed one unit where it appears the fire started and severely damaged units on either side of it," the fire chief said. "The apartments on the ground floor all received water damage.

"When we left the station, you could see the orange glow already, so we knew it was bad," he added.

Saulman said one family was extremely fortunate to get out safely.

"The smoke was in the attic so the fire alarms didn't go off," Saulman said. "By the time they were notified there was a fire, they said the roof was caving in behind them. It was a younger couple with three kids. They had a real narrow escape."

There were no injuries reported either to firefighters or residents.

"All the tenants worked together to help each other out, and the Red Cross has helped tremendously," Paula Craig, Blue River's housing director, said.

The state fire marshal was on the scene later Friday morning to investigate what may have caused the fire.

The fire was the first for one of Blue River's properties. The unit damaged by the fire contained four two-bedroom apartments and four three-bedroom apartments. (Autumn Ridge is affordable housing based on income and the number of people living in the apartment.)

"Our big concern right now is a lot of the residents don't have renters' insurance, and, as you can see, the contents of their apartments are ruined," Craig said. "I know one that does have it and maybe a second family that has it, but the other six families do not have it.

"We're trying to figure out where to locate everyone," she said. "We've got one vacant apartment here, and we've got another property (where) we could possibly place them, and then we're looking for other spaces."

Craig said she believed that at least one half of the building will have to be torn down. Blue River's housing office received extensive water damage, so it also will have to be relocated until a final determination on the burned structure is made.

Jill Robinson, Blue River housing manager, thanked the fire departments for their quick response.

"We have nothing but praise for the fire departments and the job they did," Robinson said.

Blue River Services is accepting donations of gift cards to Walmart and JayC as well as cash and checks to help the displaced families purchase food, clothing and household items. Also, clothing for children displaced by the fire is being accepted. Ages and sizes are as follows: Boys — age 16, men's 30-30 pants, M-L shirt; age 4, size 5; Girls — age 12, size 5 pants, M-L shirt; age 8, size 10-12; age 7, size 16; age 6, size 7-8; and age 5, size 6.

To make a donation, call Evelyn McPherson at Blue River Services at 738-4196.