Friday, July 16, 2010


Elyria – The Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross had to find temporary homes for 16 people Friday night after a fire ripped through an apartment in Elyria.

Assistant Chief Ron Brlas of the Elyria Fire Department said that he and a Firefighter had moved an Engine to Fire Station #4 on North Abbe Road Friday afternoon. “The Engine had been out of service for repairs and when it was completed we ran it over to the Station. About 15 to 20 minutes later we received an alarm for a possible fire in the apartments at 601 North Abbe – right next door to Station 4.”

Brlas said that as he was traveling along Route 57 he could see heavy smoke filling the sky. “When I pulled up I saw heavy fire and smoke coming from both the front and rear of the structure. After everything settled down I thought that Chad and I had just been here and didn’t see anything.”

The fire apartment, B-9, was occupied by Greg Miller, his girlfriend, their 4 year old daughter and Randy Hubbard. Hubbard told Brlas that he had left the apartment to go shopping up the street just before the fire. “When I was coming home I could see the smoke and at first I thought maybe it was the church,” said Hubbard. “Then when I got home I saw the awning on fire and the entire apartment was on fire.”

Hubbard and Miller said they believed the fire started because of poor wiring in the air conditioner located below the front window.

Brlas said that Investigators believe the fire did start in the first floor living room but the exact cause is still under investigation.

“The fire was so intense that the stairway going up to the second floor had already burned,” said Brlas. “One of our Captains actually fell through the staircase as he was making his way to the second floor. He was ok and was able to get back up quickly and go back to attacking the fire.”

With this apartment building being as old as it is there were no fire walls between apartments to stop the blaze. Brlas said a couple things played a roll in stopping the fire from spreading. “At first I had the first crew going in with an inch & ¾ - but then with the amount of fire in there I had them go in with a 2” line so they could dump more water on it right away. Another crew went down 2 apartments to pull the ceilings down so we could see how far the fire had already spread and to stop it there if it was moving that way. Also, we received mutual aid from Sheffield Village and Avon and they both arrived quickly. The crew from Sheffield got up on the roof and cut some much needed ventilation holes – they all did a great job.”

With temperatures in the 90’s Brlas also praised the work of LifeCare Paramedics who were on scene assisting Firefighters in their rehab. “They were constantly checking the guys to make sure they ok to go back in if needed and weren’t afraid to say they had to stay out for a few more minutes. They also made sure the guys were getting plenty of water and O’2. They were a huge help to the guys today.”

The fire apartment is a total loss according to Brlas. The apartment to the right, B-10 suffered minor fire damage but heavy smoke and water damage. Four other apartments suffered smoke and water damage.


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