Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Sheffield Township – Firefighters from multiple departments battled an early morning blaze in bitterly cold weather and at times heavy snowfall.

Chief Joe Bandagski of the Sheffield Township Fire Department said they received calls of an apartment on fire around 1 a.m. on O’Neil Blvd. (The apartment complex sits behind the Apples grocery store on North Ridge Road in Sheffield Township.) “As we pulled up we had heavy fire shooting out of the second floor windows. It was reported that nobody was in the building but our guys went in and did a quick search confirming that the building was clear.”

As Firefighters entered the building Chief Bandagski said they encountered heavy fire conditions and the roof was collapsing. “Our guys got out of the building after the roof started coming down. We then went to a defensive attack and we called in mutual aid from surrounding departments.”

Elyria Township and Sheffield Village Fire Departments were dispatched immediately as part of their mutual aid agreement – whenever there is a report of a structure fire they are automatically toned out with Sheffield Township. In addition, Amherst, Carlisle and South Amherst sent equipment and manpower to assist at the fire scene.

While photographing the fire I remembered that I had just been to the same complex a month earlier for an apartment fire. In that fire a mother and her three children lost everything in the fire. Management of the property moved the mother and her children to a new apartment right after the January fire. Yes, you guessed it; she was moved to this apartment building. (To see that story: CLICK HERE)

The building is divided into two parts, a north and a south building. In each section there are two upstairs and two downstairs apartments. The fire started in the north building, upstairs front apartment. Patrice Hudson and her three children were moved into the north building upstairs back apartment. Hudson once again finds herself with no home and all of her belongings, including medications, lost to a fire.

Hudson said that the support she received after the January 21st fire was phenomenal. “My landlord was great and my friends here at the complex really helped me and my kids a lot after the last fire. That support was greatly appreciated and I don’t think they will ever know what it meant to me. Being back in the same situation is something I didn’t think would ever happen. I just don’t know what I am going to do. It’s like I have a curse following me or something.”

Hudson said she might relocate to Columbus where she has family.

The night was not short on heroes either. One of them was Juan Rosado who went door to door alerting people of the fire. Rosado, who only speaks Spanish, talked to us through our interpreter Ruth Pabon. Rosado said he was watching TV when he smelled smoke and felt the fire. He then began going door to door alerting people of the fire and telling them to get out. Rosado said although he saw the flames shooting out of the windows, the idea of not alerting neighbors was not even an option. He said he did it because it was the right thing to do. He quickly dismissed the title of hero saying, “Anybody would do it.”

Chief Bandagski said that the Red Cross was called in to assist the families who were displaced by the fire. They also provided much needed hot coffee to the frozen Firefighters.

Art Mead Sr., Disaster Chairman of the American Red Cross, said that every family affected by the blaze would be taken care of by the Red Cross. “There were 7 occupied apartments so that is 7 families that we will be working with. One of the families left before we arrived, we are being told that they are now staying with local family members.”

TMC NEWS was at the Red Cross building on West River Road as the van carrying the families arrived. As they entered the building they were greeted by Red Cross volunteers, signed in and were given food, drink and shelter from the cold. Once inside of the hall volunteers began speaking with each family individually to learn of their specific needs. Mead said that families will be provided motel rooms for a couple of days while they work with the property management to try and get them back into apartments. “Four of the eight apartments were totally destroyed. We will work with those families to make sure they get new beds, bedding and other items to help them get back on their feet and on with their lives.”

Mead has been helping people since 1965 and he said that Hudson’s situation of “being a repeat customer” is not unusual. “I had a family that over a period of 5 years had been the victim of four different disasters. In all four cases none of the disasters were their own fault. None occurred in their own apartment, they all started in an adjoining apartment, but their apartment was affected. I’ve run into the kids 5 or 6 years later and they still remembered my name.”

Mead said that if anyone would like to donate to the American Red Cross could do so by calling their office at 440.324.2929. “We would like people to make a donation to the Local Disaster Relief Fun, that is where we pull money from to assist families.”

There were no reported injuries at the scene.

To see more photos from the scene: CLICK HERE


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey you guys you should have invited Lorain. We were slow yesterday. Fine job on the battle front though! Haas

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Ms. Hudson bought a lottery ticket today. Her odds are pretty good right now!!

8:35 PM  

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