City Point building burns
By ELLIOTT ROBINSON AND BERKLEY PRITCHETT
Feb 9, 2009, 15:39
PHOTO BY JEFF ROSE. The fire at Parkside Apartments quickly spread to the roof, destroying the apartments on the third floor. Apartments on the two floors below suffered heavy smoke and water damage. Although all 18 apartments received severe damage, no one was injured in the blaze.
An early-morning fire in City Point Sunday displaced nearly 15 families and necessitated the assistance of fire fighters from Colonial Heights, Prince George and Fort Lee. No one was injured in the blaze.
At about 4:25 a.m., said Hopewell Battalion Chief Donny Hunter, fire fighters were called to the Parkside Apartments at the intersection of Burnside Street and Allen Avenue. Those on scene found the three-story brick building engulfed in flames. Hunter said the fire appeared to have begun at the back of the building before spreading to the roof.
Joshua Goen, 33, a resident of the building, said it began around 4 a.m. The fast-moving fire completely destroyed his apartment.
"The apartment is just ruined in the inside," he said. "As far as I know everybody got out."
Before the fire broke out, Goen and several other people, who were awake in the apartment heard a roaring noise from propane tanks stored outside of the building.
"The noise made it a little bit scarier," he said.
When Goen’s wife opened their apartment door, she could could smell propane. During the week, Goen said a construction crew worked on the roof and left the tanks behind.
The third floor suffered heavy damage and the roof was burned off, Hunter said. The bottom two floors had heavy smoke and water damage. In all, the 13 occupied apartments and five vacant apartments in the entire building were damaged by the blaze.
As all Hopewell fire units, along Colonial Heights, Prince George and Fort Lee fire companies battled the fire, the School Board sent school buses to the scene to provide temporary shelter for the families. The Hopewell-Prince George Red Cross responded to the scene within the hour and the Hopewell Community Center was made available for shelter. The Hopewell Quick Lunch also provided food for the families and response teams early that morning as well, said Martha Vick, spokeswoman for the Hopewell-Prince George Red Cross.
“Although a tragedy, this event demonstrated the helpfulness of residents and City agencies working together,” said Ward 1 Councilor Christina Bailey in a statement.
By Sunday afternoon, all but one of the displaced families were with relatives or friends and that one was housed in a hotel. Vick said the Red Cross will continue to assist with all of the family's needs.
After the blaze, the apartments were walled off by caution tape and, through the knocked out windows, burn marks were visible. The building survived mostly intact despite the fire damage and the weight of the water.
“Parkside Apartments is a well-known City Point landmark and was, through the years, first home to many Hopewell couples,” Bailey said. “We look forward to seeing the current residents able to move back in to this historic structure.”
The fire was deemed under control in a little over two hours, Hunter said, but fire fighters were still on scene at least 12 hours later to put out hot spots.
Several people have contacted Bailey about donations for the displaced families and providing additional meals. Fire victims and/or their family may contact Bailey at 541-7015 or 541-2249 to get in contact with those people.
Contributions to the Red Cross Disaster Fund may be sent to HPG American Red Cross, PO Box 1261, Hopewell, VA 23860 and the Red Cross can be contacted by phone at 458-6007.