Displaced tenants find shelter after W. Perry St. fire

PERRY TWP. – Tenants displaced when their West Perry Street apartment building caught fire Wednesday morning found housing with family and friends, other apartments owned by their landlord and an American Red Cross shelter.

Firefighters from several departments responded to 1143 W. Perry St. to what was reported as a fire with entrapment, with at least 10 residents rescued or assisted out of the three-story building by the Salem and Perry Township fire departments.

Salem firefighters arrived first on the scene, using their ladder truck to rescue three people from the back of the building down a ladder from the third floor and three more residents from the front of the building with an extension ladder from the third floor. They assisted two more people down the front steps from the second floor.

Perry Township firefighters helped remove an elderly couple from the first floor. Multiple ambulance companies responded, along with Winona and Damascus fire departments.

Capt. Brandon Smith of the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department reported there were no injuries, but one woman who was already on oxygen was transported to Salem Community Hospital by KLG as a precaution. There were 12 apartment units in the building owned by Mark Courtney, who was on the scene. The listed owner on the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office website was Salem Georgetown Apartments.

According to Smith, all of the apartments were occupied, but not everyone was home at the time of the fire.

He said they determined a tenant, whom they talked with through an interpreter, had been cooking on the stove. She had poured oil into a pot on the stove and was in the bathroom with a child for several minutes. When she came out, the kitchen was full of smoke and a fire had started.

The fire was contained to that apartment, with some fire damage in the hallway. There was smoke and heat damage throughout the building. All utilities were shut down, with Ohio Edison cutting the power to the building and Columbia Gas shutting off the gas.

Smith had requested assistance by the State Fire Marshal’s office, with the investigator concurring with his findings. A thermal imaging camera was used to check for fire extension while firefighters extinguished hot spots.

Perry Township Police Chief Mike Emigh said he had to convince the one gentleman to leave his apartment on the first floor.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army also responded to the scene with food and assistance, with the American Red Cross setting up a shelter at the Salem Elks lodge which was open Wednesday night and will remain open today.

Ginger Grilli, the local American Red Cross Disaster Action Team Captain, said they weren’t sure how many to expect at the shelter, but thought at least two families would be spending the night. She said the apartment owner managed to relocate some of the tenants to other apartment buildings while others were staying with friends and family. Families will be able to get assistance at the shelter today with any needs they may have.

One family already received some assistance for some immediate needs on Wednesday. According to Grilli, families have been helped with food, linens, clothes and medicine. She said the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency also responded to the shelter which was being staffed by the American Red Cross and some volunteers from the Salvation Army.

Christine Moran, Regional Communications Officer for the American Red Cross, NEO Region, said the agency responds to at least one home fire a night. In Columbiana County last year, they provided assistance in 12 cases.

The money they use to help everyone comes from general donations to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org. Anyone wanting to make donations to help disaster victims can donate online at the website.