UPDATE: Victim of College Hill fire identified

Jamie Scales
Jamie Scales

NORTH COLLEGE HILL, OH (FOX19) - North College Hill fire officials have identified 29-year-old Jamie Scales as the victim of the overnight apartment fire in the Phoenician Town Homes.

"[She was] an all around heartwarming person, someone you can easily become friends with and to consider as family," friend Rachel Powers said of Scales.

Powers says she considered Jamie Scales more like a sister.

"I don't know what to think," Powers said. "It hasn't hit me yet, but I'm a strong person so I'm trying to be strong for [the survivors]"

Powers says Scales had spina bifida, a disorder that left one of her legs paralyzed and made it difficult for her to walk without assistance.

"In order for her to get around the house she had to crawl," Powers explained. "In order for her to get up and down the stairs sometimes she'd use crutches and a lot of times she'd just scoot down the stairs like little kids do for fun."

Firefighters says they attempted to rescue the physically disabled woman from the second floor but they were unable to reach her in time.

"It was a terrible, terrible fire," neighbor Rodney Matthews recalled. "I've never seen anything like it."

The three other occupants of the apartment, a woman and her two children, were also injured in the fire.

The mother and at least one child were forced to jump from a second story window to escape the fire.

"She ended up breaking a couple of bones in her left leg which have caused her not to walk," Powers said of the mother's condition.

Crews were called to the Phoenician Town Homes on West Galbraith Road at 1:19 a.m. Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in Apartment 2.

When they arrived, firefighters found the first floor engulfed in flames and an occupant at the second floor window calling for help.

North College Hill firefighter Chris Arnold receive second degree burns to his hand while trying to rescue the victim. Fire officials say an apparent flashover on the first floor extended into the second floor, burning the woman and the firefighter.

"The fireman pulled back and the other fireman grabbed him and they came back down the ladder," Matthews recalled.

Firefighters were not able to immediately find the woman following the flashover and say they were ultimately unable to save her.

Arnold was taken to the hospital, treated for second degree burns, and released.

The other three victims were taken Mercy Mount Airy hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Fire officials say the contents of the apartment are considered a total loss. Adjacent apartments received only minor damage.

"I don't know how that fire didn't spread to the other units but it didn't and thank God It didn't because there were other families in there," Matthews said.

The landlord told FOX19 a firewall helped prevent the spread of the fire throughout the building.

Arson investigators from the Hamilton County Arson Task Force are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire with assistance from the North College Hill Police Department.

The Red Cross is assisting the family with temporary housing and funeral arrangements.

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