Firefighters Say Smoke Alarms Did Not Sound At Apartment That Caught Fire In Southeast Columbus

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Flames tore through an apartment building Tuesday morning along Chatterton Road, near Refugee Road, in southeast Columbus.

A dozen families were asleep at the time, and now they are left without a place to call home.

Reginald Whitfield said he had no choice but to warn neighbors.

“I started hauling, telling people, hollering, telling them ‘fire, fire, fire!” said Whitfield.

He saw the fire as he looked out his window and knew the building was full of people.

“I lost my mother in a fire. I feel for that, and I don’t want to see nobody else get hurt,” said Whitfield.

The fire started in one apartment and quickly spread to other units. Many people inside said they woke up to the sound of people yelling.

Alvin Wood said someone may have saved his life.

“I’m thankful for that because the smoke detectors did not work at all,” said Wood.

Robert Caslin, III, woke to terror at his Truro Township apartment. He feared for his life.

“Of course, because I didn't know where it was at, when I came down the hallway, there was so much smoke I was taken away, you know with not breathing,” he said.

The fire broke out right next to Caslin's unit.

Flames crept along the roof line and smoke filled the sky. Even so, Caslin says it was a smoke alarm that alerted him.

But other residents say they didn't hear any smoke alarms.

Truro battalion Chief Allen Deavers says he usually hears the alarms at fires but didn't this time.

“Nobody I talked to, any of the firefighters or myself, heard the smoke alarms going off,” said Deavers.

The apartment complex manager showed 10TV around to prove otherwise.

Aram Gosdanian says every unit has alarms, and he showed us one.

“There were 12 smoke alarms, one per unit and each one of them was working,” said Gosdanian.

Gosanian says the alarms work when residents move in. After that, renters are supposed to keep them working.

“As part of their lease, that places the care and responsibility of the maintenance of those smoke detectors upon them”

Dozens of families were affected with around 30 units possibly damaged. No one was injured.

Investigators are looking into whether the fire was intentionally set.

K9 units were being used to sniff for possible flash points around the apartments.

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