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September 4, 2012

North Corbin fire leaves 20 homeless

Four units heavily damaged at Rose Ann Apartments

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

An early morning fire at an apartment complex in North Corbin did major damage to four units, and left some 20 residents homeless.

About 80 residents at the Rose Ann Apartments, also known as Emma’s Place Apartments, on Robert E. Cox Road were evacuated during the blaze, which began shortly before 2:30 a.m. Most of them returned to their units after fire crews at the scene had the fire under control.

With the exception of one person receiving minor burns, no one was injured. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

The West Knox Volunteer Fire Department reported getting the call at 2:25 a.m. They arrived at the scene six minutes later.

According to West Knox Chief Darryl Baker, residents said a man living in one of the bottom apartments — Apartment 21 — woke up and smelled smoke. The man saw the fire, tried to put it out, and then went from door to door, waking everyone up. The man did receive minor burns on his hands, but did not need hospitalization.

Baker said the fire was in the bottom back apartment, the apartment above it, and in the attic. He added the fire went upwards, and damaged the roof as well. Four units were heavily damaged in the blaze on one side of the complex — two on the bottom floor and two on the top floor.

“The whole structure is made up of 16 apartments. The fire damaged four of them, but we stopped the fire at the breezeway from spreading to other units. As for the four that were damaged, they’ll have to be rebuilt,” noted Baker in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Late Friday morning, the apartments receiving the fire damage were easy to spot. Most of the roof was melted and discolored from the flames, with soot from the smoke appearing from the open windows and on part of the breezeway. The acrid aroma of smoke wafted over the complex, and yellow fire line tape kept people away from entering the fire scene.

The exception were those who lived in the apartments, who went in to retrieve what belongings they had left, or could be salvaged. On the sidewalks, personal belongings were mixed with furniture, electronics and bags of clothing. Next to a group of stereo and computer equipment, a chest of drawers waited to be claimed by its owner.

On the side of the building, a cable TV repairman fixed damage near the attic, while an investigator with the State Fire Marshall’s Office asked questions about the fire’s origins to tenants and neighbors.

Near the breezeway, a young girl greeted a woman as she carried out two chairs that were once inside one of the units. Around them, a piece of children’s playground furniture mixes in with pieces of torn and melted siding from the top units of the apartment complex.

Baker stated about 20 persons were left homeless, and were staying at a set-up shelter at the West London Baptist Church. They were helped by the Laurel County Chemicals Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, or CSEPP, who was at the scene of Friday morning’s fire.

The West Knox VFD was assisted during the fire by units from the Corbin Fire Department, as well as the Laurel County, Lily, Keavy and Campground Volunteer Fire Departments, plus Laurel County Ambulance and the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.

The State Fire Marshall’s Office continues to investigate.

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