Water heater blamed for blaze

Published 2:56 am Wednesday, January 26, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Authorities said Monday afternoon that a broken water heater caused a 6th Avenue apartment to catch fire earlier that morning.
"We think the water heater shorted out and sparked the fire," Atmore Fire Department Capt. Mike Staples said.
Minutes after receiving the call, the Atmore Fire Department arrived at the scene and broke through the back door in an effort to locate the cause of the fire.
"At 9:50 a.m. we received a call from police dispatch and we arrived at the scene at 9:52 a.m.," Staples said. "We had the fire under control three to five minutes after we got in and located (the problem)."
The apartment was being rented by Dorthy M. Lee who was away from home when the blaze began.
"I was headed back from visiting a friend," she said. "I met my son on the way and he told me my apartment was on fire."
Lee will not be able to resume occupancy of the apartment until it is cleaned up and repaired.
"I'll probably stay with my son for a while; I'm just glad nobody was hurt in the fire," she said.
Lee's home was not the only one damaged as a result of the fire. Lucy Dubose, who lives in the apartment below Lee, received severe water damage.
"They called me from work and told me my apartment building was on fire," Dubose said.
Dubose's kitchen was completely flooded from the fire department's effort to put out the flames in Lee's apartment.
"I'm just afraid my ceiling might fall in where the water's leaked through the floor upstairs," Dubose said.
Dubose does not know where she will stay until she is sure her home is safe.
"I've been here 16 years and this is my first fire," building manager David McCants said. "If it's not a hurricane it's a fire, and I just put on a new roof."
McCants was not allowed to see the damage done to Lee's apartment until after the Fire Department declared it to be safe.
"They came in through the sliding doors in the back so I couldn't open the front door to see without making too much of a draft," McCants said.
A large draft could have fed the flames and put lives in danger, he said.
Seven firemen and six units were on the scene and Kelley's Ambulance Company was on hand in case help was needed.
Authorities say no one was injured.

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