Hopewell apartment fire displaces woman
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Apr 10, 2013, 15:13
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Debris from an apartment fire Monday morning are piled up in front of Kippax Place in Hopewell.
HOPEWELL — During the early morning hours on Monday, a fire broke out at an apartment at Kippax Place, resulting in the displacement of one resident.
At around 6:30 a.m., Hopewell Fire Department responded to reports of a fire on the fourth floor of the multi-unit housing development managed by Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority. All residents at Kippax were evacuated as the fire department, with aid from Prince George Fire Department, began to battle the flames.
“I think the response was well. We are able to account for all the residents,” said Madelyn Madison-Hyde, public housing director.
After the blaze was extinguished, the fire department searched the floors above and below apartment 406 to check for other fire damage. Smoke damage was found in the hallways and the smell of smoke was detected in apartment 408, but the fire only resulted in damage to the location of the fire. The apartments beside and below the location of the fire are still habitable.
“We could’ve had causalities. We could’ve lost some apartments,” Hyde said.
After an investigation by Fire Marshal Matthew Flowers, it was determined the fire was started by cigarette ashes.
In the report, Flowers states he spoke to the resident of apartment 406 and she said between 5 and 5:30 a.m. she emptied her ashtray into a trashcan in her bedroom and left the room. When she returned, she found the trashcan and bed was on fire. The report further states she retrieved a trashcan from another room, filling it with water five or six times trying to put out the fire. After her efforts were unsuccessful, she left the apartment to get aid from another resident on her floor.
The fire marshal’s report states the fire had engulfed the entire bedroom before it was extinguished by the fire department.
Residents were let back into the building, by floor, around 9:40 a.m.
Hyde said the apartment is currently uninhabitable and will take upwards of 30 days to restore. In the meantime, Hyde said the resident will be rehoused in another unit in the building that is available. Before the Housing Authority made the decision to rehouse the resident, the investigation had to be completed.
If the fire was ruled as negligence instead of accidental, the resident would not have been housed. Hyde said it is not a requirement that the housing authority rehouse the resident. She said all incidents are determined on a case-by-case basis.
While the fire only damaged one apartment, Hyde said it is a good time for all residents of Kippax to learn about renter’s insurance.
“We are going to use this as an opportunity to educate residents again,” Hyde said. “As many times as we’ve said it, it never really hits home until there’s an incident.”
She said the Housing Authority is going to begin coordinating with local insurance agencies to set up presentations for residents.
“We want to encourage them to go ahead and purchase it,” Hyde said. “And what they can gain from it in unfortunate situations such as this one. Because it’s times like these where renter’s insurance would provide the immediate coverage that we need because we don’t do emergency housing here at the Housing Authority.”