Lebanon Apartment Complex Evacuates After Fire
A Lebanon firefighter walks down a ladder that is perched outside a third floor apartment at the Emerson Place apartment complex in Lebanon. A fire in the apartment was extinguished by a sprinkler system. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Outside Emerson Place in Lebanon Nancy Smith talks on the phone and waits with her children Greta, 8 months, and Wyatt, 2, as well as their dog Jack. The apartment complex where they live was evacuated because of a fire in one of the units. Both of her children were napping when the alarm went off. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — No one was injured after a small fire at downtown Lebanon’s Emerson Place apartment complex forced an evacuation of a majority of the residents in a four-story apartment building.
A Lebanon Fire Department news release said the fire was “found to be accidental” but did not elaborate on the cause. Units from Hanover, Hartford and Enfield responded to the fire.
Lebanon Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Libbey said yesterday that the sprinkler system in the apartment building had already contained the fire by the time Lebanon crews arrived around 12:45 p.m., which he estimated to be about two minutes after the alarm first rang through the station, which is less than a half-mile away.
Libbey said the fire was “small,” but big enough to bring the heat up to 165 degrees within the apartment and set off the sprinklers. At the scene of the fire, Libbey said that the cause was still under investigation, but mentioned that it could have been caused by a stove.
Pearl Chase, who lives in the apartment building, said she overheard that the family occupying the apartment that caught fire was preparing to move and had placed a box on the stove, not realizing that the stove was on.
The 80-unit, four-story apartment building was built in 2004, according to city records. There is another building of the same size next to the one that caught fire yesterday.
Jessica Perez, who moved to Lebanon from Mexico five months ago to live with her fiance David Caba, said that she lives next door to the apartment that caught fire.
Perez said she was making breakfast for Caba, who works the night shift as a doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She said Caba was still asleep when the fire occurred yesterday around 12:45 p.m., and she heard screaming in the hallway.
“I heard, ‘Come help me,’ ... and then I opened the door and saw the smoke,” said Perez. “So I was like, ‘OK, this is serious, so I called to (Caba) and we grabbed the dog.’”
Like many others standing outside in the 80-degree heat yesterday, Perez and Caba had their canine companion safely under their watch. In the engaged couple’s case, it was a four-month-old chihuahua named Senor.
The Emerson Place building that caught fire yesterday allows dogs under a certain weight limit, according to tenants in the parking lot yesterday afternoon.
Fellow dog-owner Chris Boyd, who was also caught sleeping, has lived in the complex for a year and a half. Boyd works the night shift at Hypertherm, and was waiting outside in the shade of the front entrance’s awning with his five-year-old husky, Pandora.
“The alarm went off, and I actually didn’t respond to it for a bit because we’ve had a few false alarms before,” Boyd said. “I just kind of got up and got out here once I gathered (Pandora) up.”
Hartford Police Officer Mark McComas, who lives in the building that caught fire yesterday with his wife and kids, also works the night shift, and was woken up abruptly by his wife, Beth McComas, after she first heard the alarm.
While Mark McComas said he would rather not have his sleep schedule interrupted, he said his five-year-old son and six-year-old daughter were “loving it” as they hung out in the hot sun yesterday afternoon.
“They like the fire trucks,” he said.
Darryl Murrey said he lives below the apartment that caught fire, which suffered some water damage, according to Libbey.
Murrey said he didn’t smell or see any smoke upon exiting his apartment yesterday.
Ben Conarck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213