Residents escape fire at Crothersville apartment complex



Several residents escaped a fire Monday morning after a fire was reported at an apartment complex in Crothersville.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze after fighting it for a little more than a half-hour at Village Apartments, 300 S. Armstrong St., Crothersville, after it was reported at 11:25 a.m.

The fire was contained at 11:57 a.m.

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The complex is home to 32 units, manager Elizabeth Harris said.

Two injuries were reported, and those people were taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, said Ben Spencer, deputy fire chief of the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department. None of those injuries were serious, and one person was injured when she fell leaving the complex.

Spencer said firefighters were able to alert four people, including two children, about the fire. One adult in a first-floor apartment was asleep, a man was asleep in an apartment on the second floor and two children were unaware of the fire upstairs. Spencer said smoke had not reached that area of the complex.

“We did a search after that to confirm everyone was out,” he said.

The fire began in the kitchen of Apartment 14 on the second floor in the northeast corner of the complex, occupied by roommates Donald Helton and Pamela Furrow.

Harris said the complex’s maintenance man told her there was a fire in the building and took off to let residents know. They knocked on doors to alert residents and grabbed keys to each unit.

They also were able to go into apartments of residents that weren’t home to get pets out of the complex.

“There was smoke in the apartment, the hallway and upstairs, and downstairs, there was heavy, black smoke,” Harris said.

Helton, standing in the rain without shoes and a soot-covered face, said he was asleep when his roommate told him there was a fire on the stove.

“Everything was fine, and I went back to bed because I thought it was all over, and I cleared everything off the stove,” he said outside the complex as first responders continued to work the scene.

Helton said there was a dehydrator on the stove, but Furrow told him she thought it was unplugged.

Furrow came back into the room and told him the fire rekindled.

When he returned, he said flames were reaching high and were around the wall, and he put more water on it and thought he put the fire out again.

That’s when he got the dogs and his medicine out to leave the apartment and let management know.

By the time he got ready, he knew the fire had gotten out of control and was able to leave.

Karen Phillips lives across from Helton and Furrow. She first became aware of the situation when she heard fire alarms going off.

She peered out into the hallway to see what was happening when she saw smoke.

“I just saw a bunch of smoke billowing out,” she said. “It was bad.”

Phillips, clutching her wet, shaking Chihuahua, Grayson, said she planned to stay with relatives if she could not get back into her apartment.

All residents were able to return to their apartments except for Helton and Farrow due to conditions and investigation. The Salvation Army was called to assist with temporary placement.

Spencer said they were able to retrieve some of Helton and Farrow’s belongings.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The fire led to a brief closure of Armstrong Street, or U.S. 31.

Jennings Township Volunteer Fire Department in Scott County and Redding Township Volunteer Fire Department and Jackson-Washington Volunteer Fire Department in Jackson County assisted at the scene. Also responding were the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Crothersville Police Department and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

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