Fire, smoke damage 4 apartments on Helm Lane; no injuries reported

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

July 20, 2007 - A section of Quail Ridge Apartments was evacuated late Friday night after a fire damaged four apartments.

Staff Photo by Angela PItts

Apartment 225 suffered extensive damage after a fire began Friday night and spread, damaging three other residences at Quail Ridge Apartments on Helm Lane. 

No injuries were reported, but a pregnant woman was taken to the hospital as a precaution after inhaling smoke.

Arrangements were made for the residents of the affected section of the apartment complex to stay the remainder of the night in a hotel.

The blaze was reported to city dispatchers at 10:25 p.m. Friday in apartment 225, located upstairs behind the manager's office. 

"It came in kind of unusual," Assistant Sulphur Springs Fire Chief Tim Vaughn said Saturday morning. "It was called in as a fire in an apartment. They then called back to say it was knocked out with a fire extinguisher. When police arrived, there were flames on the roof."

Firefighters responded with all available trucks. Police, who had arrived first, began going from apartment to apartment, knocking on doors and making sure all occupants were evacuated.

When the first truck arrived, firemen reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof. 

"The first ones made entry in the interior," Vaughn said. "They went inside and knocked it down quick and good. They made a great stop. Those three guys jumped in and got it down."

Authorities made certain all occupants were out of the apartments. Seven off-duty Sulphur Springs firemen were called. Assistance was requested from the nearest volunteer department, Brinker VFD, which responded with five personnel.

Firefighters were at the scene until 1:23 a.m. Saturday checking for hot spots, smoldering embers and blowing as much smoke out of the apartments as possible.

Police stood by, making sure people remained a safe distance from the fire and keeping cars off that section of Helm Lane while firemen worked.

Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services also were on standby but treated only one person, a pregnant woman who was said to have inhaled a bit of the smoke. She was taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution.

The fire consumed apartment 225 and had spread into the "void" or crawl space between the ceiling and roof, causing some damage to both the roof and apartment next to it. At least two apartments on the ground floor, 124 and 125, sustained smoke damage.

Firefighters Saturday morning said they're still not sure how the fire started, only that it was in apartment 225. Sulphur Springs Assistant Fire Marshal Eric Hill is investigating the blaze.

Officials at Quail Ridge apartments could not be reached Saturday morning for further information regarding plans for the displaced residents.

Firefighters indicated the damaged section of apartments could be rebuilt should the owners choose to do so.

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