Crews sent back to a fire in Independence after flames rekindled

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

INDEPENDENCE, KY (FOX19) - Crews were called back to an apartment complex in Independence Wednesday morning to battle hot spots after a large fire.

Flames broke out around 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Fairway Park Apartments in the 3800 block of Richardson Road.

Several families lost everything they had in just one fiery hour, their homes reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.

Luckily, no one was injured.

Police spent Tuesday night cruising through the parking lots to make sure no one tried to get back into their home to search for their belongings, because structurally, the building was no longer safe, and to keep looters away.

Twenty-two families were burned-out of their homes in the massive fire.  Some of the families will be escorted back Wednesday to get any items that were not damaged.

Flames and smoke shot out of the rafters at the Fairways Park Apartments and tore across rooftops, while people who had just escaped, looked back in disbelief. Their homes were disintegrating right before their eyes.

"We're out, we're good," said new mother, Tracy Stephens, who was napping with her 6 month old baby while fire raged on the other side of her bedroom wall.

"They were beating on my door," she said. "I didn't even smell anything but my bedroom was hot." Were your smoke detectors going off or anything?," we asked. "no," she said, "Nothing went off."

The fire spread quickly in the mostly wood construction and roughly 20-year-old complex. A stiff wind did not make it any easier for firefighters in the extreme heat.

"We had two firefighters that were injured," said Independence Fire Department Chief Rick Messingschlager. "One with heat exhaustion, and one was struck in the head with a ladder."

Both men were treated and released with minor injuries.

The focus of the fire investigation is on Apartment 22, on the second floor. The Chief said a woman who lived right above in apartment 32 was lucky to get out when she did.

"She smelled smoke," Chief Messingschlager said. "Walked out on her balcony and fire was coming-up hitting her on the feet out of apartment 22, which was just below her."

Messingschlager said the woman called her apartment manager, who then called 911.

"She called me crying saying that the building was on fire," said Tracy Brockman, whose daughter was home in their apartment, directly below where the fire started, with their dog Jasmine.

"There's some animals that I think were lost," Brockman said. "I have a cat still inside but I think that my apartment is ok."

"This cat has no white on it whatsoever," said Kenton County Animal Control Officer Amy Wesley, pointing to a grey-striped tabby in a crate. Wesley lives in the building behind them and had just come home for lunch. But when she saw smoke, she immediately began knocking on doors, helping people and their pets get out safely.

Brockman's cat, Riley, was found alive in her apartment and is back with her and her family.

Wesley said every family who contacted her, looking for their pets, has been reunited with them.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are working to make sure everyone has a place to stay.

Cause of that fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2010 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.