Two people are injured in South Central Avenue blaze
By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
A Friday morning blaze in downtown Somerset resulted in two people being taken to the hospital for treatment — and one building that will eventually be coming down.
The Somerset Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at an apartment complex located at 143 South Central Avenue at 8:22 a.m.
Acting SFD Chief Junior Fortenberry said that the fire started in a first-floor apartment, one of four, and were “rolling up to the second floor.”
All of the units suffered some damage and the building has been condemned, according to Fortenberry.
Two people who lived in the apartment where the fire started — Brian Epperson and Jessica Burton — were transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, said the fire chief, one with first-degree burns and the other for possible smoke inhalation. Both have since been released from the hospital, said Fortenberry.
As many as 24 firefighters arrived on the scene, with off-duty firefighters being called in to help battle the blaze. Firefighters entered the structure to extinguish the fire, using two hand lines — a fire hydrant happened to be right next to the structure, making for a convenient reach — and made an initial attack through the front, then came through the back to help keep the fire from spreading.
The winter weather conditions in town made things tricky, and the threat of firefighters slipping on an icy ground meant SFD called in the city’s street department to salt the road. One water line also froze up, but, said Fortenberry, “we always have a back-up.”
Firefighters were on the scene until around 10:30 a.m., and investigators remained until about noon.
A cause for the fire has not yet been determined, though Fortenberry noted that it was “possibly electrical,” and that the resident of the apartment mentioned an electric space heater as a potential factor. The fire did appear to start in the living room, said the fire chief.
About a dozen residents of the apartment building were displaced, and taken over to the Rocky Hollow facility on that street to get them out of the cold. Red Cross is working with public safety director Tiger Robinson to put the residents up at a local motel until other arrangements can be made.
Somerset Police, the city electric company, gas department and streets department, Somerset-Pulaski EMS, and the state fire marshal assisted at the scene.