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Fire at Arnold Towers high rise

| Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 6:12 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Arnold Police Chief Willie Weber heads out of the Arnold Towers for fresh air after evacuating sixth-floor residents from an apartment fire and making the initial attack with a fire hose on the floor to limit the damage on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Arnold firefighters work at the scene of an Arnold Towers apartment fire on Horne Boulevard on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Arnold firefighter Walt Gouza adjusts his breathing mask on the sixth floor balcony of an apartment that was on fire at the Arnold Towers on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Arnold firefighters respond to a report of smoke and flames on the sixth floor of the Arnold Towers high-rise apartment building in Arnold about 5:40 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Although there were initial reports of someone being trapped in the fire, officials said the resident of the affected apartment was able to leave on her own.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Arnold firefighters respond to a report of smoke and flames on the sixth floor of the Arnold Towers high-rise apartment building in Arnold about 5:40 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Although there were initial reports of someone being trapped in the fire, officials said the resident of the affected apartment was able to leave on her own.

No one was injured in a late afternoon fire in a sixth-floor apartment at the Arnold Towers on Horne Boulevard in Arnold.

Resident Joan Smith ushered Della Ricchuito in Apt. 604 from her burning kitchen and smoke-filled apartment.

Ricchuito said she was warming up macaroni and cheese before the fire broke out in her kitchen.

Smith, who lives in an apartment a floor below Ricchuito, told her to leave the apartment.

Ricchuito said, “I was using baking soda to try to put the fire out. She pulled me out.

“I said that I wanted to get my purse and cane and she said, ‘Forget it.' ”

Smith said she heard a thud from Ricchuito's apartment and went up to investigate.

Smith found a smoke-filled apartment and saw that the kitchen cabinets were on fire.

“Della wouldn't come out,” Smith said. “I tried to use the fire extinguisher, but the fire was too big.

“Thank God that I heard that thud,” she said. “We look out for each other here.”

Arnold police Sgt. Mike Krahe was the first on scene shortly after 5:30 p.m.

Police immediately knocked on apartment doors on the sixth floor to evacuate residents.

In Ricchuito's apartment, “the smoke was so thick that you couldn't see,” Krahe said.

Arnold police Chief Willie Weber, a longtime firefighter, entered the apartment and started to knock down the fire.

Firefighters arrived and set up two ladder trucks to access the unit to finish off the fire and work on getting smoke out of the apartment.

Police and firefighters were concerned about the heavy smoke in part of the sixth floor.

About 20 residents were evacuated from the sixth floor, while residents on the other floors could choose to evacuate to the building's community room or stay on their porch, Weber said.

The building's two elevators were shut down during the emergency and police and firefighters escorted some residents down the stairs to reach the first-floor community room.

According to Arnold fire Chief J.C. Tedorski, no one was injured and the blaze is under investigation. Foul play is not suspected.

There are about 120 residents and 125 apartments in the eight-story, public housing high-rise building, according to Tedorski.

Firefighters worked to ventilate the building and had the smoke and other issues cleared up by about 7:30 p.m.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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