WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) — More than 30 people have been displaced after a fire that destroyed an apartment building near Westerville.
Firefighters said they will continue to investigate Thursday morning to determine what caused the fire on Buffalo Run.
The Columbus Division of Fire said the entire building, which has ten units, is a loss. The building itself is valued at approximately $2 million, which doesn’t include everything that was inside for 34 people who lived there.
Fire trucks swarmed the parking lot next to Ronald Saunders’ building Wednesday.
“I come up the hill and I’m like, ‘Oh snap!'” Saunders said. “And I seen smoke and it just so happened to be this one [apartment] next door.”
Saunders recorded video on his cellphone as flames licked the roof of the building next door.
Tony Garnon and Heather McDonald were inside their apartment in that building when Garnon’s father saw smoke.
“We went knocking on all the apartments to make sure nobody [was] in them still, because we saw the fire starting,” Garnon said.
When firefighters got to the apartments, they called for extra help, “knowing that this is a wooden building and we have a lot of high winds today,” Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said.
Firefighters from five agencies, including Columbus and Westerville, eventually managed to knock down the fire, despite issues with the water in the hydrants.
“The water was not enough from the hydrants that were up here, so we had to place some large hoses from a larger water main down the road,” Martin said.
The building was destroyed as the fire spread through the attics and ripped through much of the roof. Fortunately, hardly anyone was home.
“Just thankful it wasn’t me,” Saunders said.
One neighbor who lived nearby told NBC4 he felt sorry for the neighbors who lost everything so soon after the holidays.
The Columbus Division of Fire said it is working with the apartment complex to help the people who were displaced. The Red Cross will help initially, but the apartment is trying to place all the displaced people into vacant units.