On Fire: Blazes keep firefighters busy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A fire early Sunday morning caused an estimated $50,000 worth of damages to a Holladay Street apartment complex. It also started off what’s already become a busy week for the Suffolk fire department.

Just before 1 a.m., Sharon Thompson pulled into the complex.

&uot;I saw flames coming out the window, and I thought it was from my niece’s apartment,&uot; she said (Thompson lives on the opposite end of the building from the fire, next door to her niece). &uot;I went up and started beating on the door, and I saw Mr. White come out his door.&uot;

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The fire was in the apartment of Raymond White, 76, a door down from Thompson’s niece.

&uot;He was coming out the door,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;At first we just saw smoke, and then the flames burst out. We all got out and went across the street and I called 911.&uot;

When firefighters reached the scene, flames had already broken through the front window and advanced up the side and into the attic of the two-story building. Just before 1:30, the fire was declared under control.

White said that he had been placed sweet potatoes in the oven and gone upstairs. He smelled smoke and came back down to find a fire in the range.

The kitchen and living room were gutted, and the upstairs suffered heavy heat and smoke damage. The apartments on each side received moderate smoke damage, and the one to the right received water damage. The building’s damage was an estimated $40,000; damage to the contents was listed at $10,000.

Though the building was insured, White did not have renter’s insurance. He’s being assisted by the Suffolk chapter of the American Red Cross.

Things got hot quickly on Monday, as a fire at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School broke out just before 8:45 a.m., filling the gym with smoke. Firefighters determined that an air conditioner in the ceiling had malfunctioned. Students and staff were quickly evacuated, and the building was cleared of fire and smoke before 10 a.m. Damage estimates were unavailable.

As the afternoon rolled in, railroad employees apparently set afire a bundle of ropes at the railroad tracks near Bank Street. Allegedly attempting to burn the rope for trash, employees doused the ropes with diesel fuel

just after 2 p.m.

&uot;There is no open burning this time of year for anyone,&uot; said Lt. K.W. Nelms, of the Suffolk Fire Department. The open flame law stretches from June to September, and burning at other times requires a permit. &uot;I guess (the employees) figured that this would be a good way to get rid of the ropes.&uot;

He said that no charges would be filed against those that set the fire.

Only minutes later, firefighters were called to the 400 block of Railroad Avenue, where a house condemned since May was burning. No injuries were reported, and the cause for the fire was unknown at press time.