McCandless honors emergency personnel, others for response to apartment fire |
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Tony LaRussa

Emergency personnel who responded to the April 10 fire at the Durham Court apartments and the local charitable organizations and businesses that came to the aid of displaced residents were honored recently with proclamations issued by McCandless Town Council.

The town also honored were two men who were making furniture deliveries on the morning of the fire — Brian Suminski and Dan Newton — and alerted residents to the fire, which decimated the 30 unit building off Babcock Boulevard.

“They were driving past the apartment complex and saw a fire on one of the balconies,” said council President Kim Zachary, who read the proclamations at council’s April 22 meeting. “They stopped, they pulled the alarm and they started pounding on people’s doors to get them out of that building.”

The proclamation praises Suminski and Newton, stating, in part that:”…their actions kept residents of the apartment safe and limited damage to the building. The Town of McCandless always takes pride in acknowledging and recognizing individuals who take quick and decisive measures to rescue others in their time of distress.”

Fire investigators noted that while the roof of the building was destroyed and the apartments sustained significant smoke and water damage, the units were not damaged by flames.

The fire started on the deck of a third-floor apartment in the center of the building and quickly spread to the attic.

The cause remains under investigation but initial findings are that it appears to have ignited accidentally, according to the town’s fire marshal.

The fire resulted in only one minor injury.

A number of the town’s volunteer firefighters attended the meeting as representatives of the scores of people who assisted in extinguishing the fire.

In all, 26 fire departments responded to the incident or were placed on alert to assist if needed, according to authorities.

The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, North Hills Community Outreach and the McCandless Community Association were acknowledged for the assistance they provided to the 45 residents who were displaced and lost most all of their possessions.

Council also recognized Treasure House Fashions, which helped replace some of the clothing lost by victims.

“Thank you all very much for your service,” Zachary said.

The apartment building did not have sprinklers because it was constructed in 1965, which is before such systems were required, he said.

The building was equipped with working smoke detectors in each unit and in common areas, according to the fire marshal.

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