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Crews battle apartment fire

Residents, escape unharmed as cause is under investigation

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Warren firefighters were called Tuesday afternoon to battle an apartment building fire off Berkshire Drive SE in Warren. Several people and their pets were able to escape the blaze, but numerous apartments were damaged by fire, smoke and water. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but initial reports indicate smoking materials on the second floor may have caused the fire.

WARREN — Residents and pets escaped a Tuesday afternoon apartment fire on Berkshire Drive SE, according to the Warren Fire Department.

Warren firefighters and police officers were called sometime before 4 p.m. to the fire in an eight-plex building in the 4300 block of Berkshire, known as Candlelight Apartments, according to firefighters.

Assistant fire Chief Chuck Eggleston said eight apartments were damaged, mostly from smoke and water. Two apartments suffered extensive fire damage. Fire crews used a ladder to get to the second floor of the building where the most fire damage was.

Shawnee Stewart, who lives on the front, first floor of the building, said she heard someone say, “What’s going on?”

“I looked out my door and saw the area where the air conditioning was on fire,” she said. “I had to grab my two little boys who were sleeping. I had to run around and get them dressed. It was frightening. Everyone was running out of the building. The fire was in the apartment above me,” Stewart said.

She said after handing her children to a neighbor, she ran back into the apartment, but it was filled with smoke and she couldn’t see.

“I got out quickly. Thank God everyone was able to get out,” Stewart said.

Stewart said she believes about 16 people live in the four apartments in the front, but was not sure how many were at home at the time of the blaze.

Nicole Smith, who lives in a nearby apartment building, said she heard the fire engines and looked out and saw smoke coming from the other apartment building.

“Everyone made it out of the building. I saw people running out,” she said.

Eggleston said the cause is under investigation but is believed to have been caused by discarded smoking material on the second floor.

Fire officials said no one was injured. Firefighters were able to get pets, including a cat and ferrets, out of the apartments.

Eggleston said one firefighter did have a minor, lower-leg injury.

Warren police also were at the scene to block off traffic.

Two Howland school buses were at the apartment development during the fire, dropping off elementary-age children.

Crews were at the scene for several hours.

Fire crews were called out a second time at around 8:30 p.m. to the same location.

This is the second apartment fire in the county this week. There was an apartment fire last Friday at the Pauni Apartments in Cortland on Liberty Boulevard, where eight units were damaged.

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