Dog killed, resident burned in OTR apartment fire

An Over-The-Rhine property owner is reaching out to the community, hoping to raise $10,000 for his displaced tenants after a fire wrecked his apartment building and left them homeless. (GoFundMe)
An Over-The-Rhine property owner is reaching out to the community, hoping to raise $10,000 for his displaced tenants after a fire wrecked his apartment building and left them homeless. (GoFundMe)

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - An Over-The-Rhine property owner is reaching out to the community, hoping to raise $10,000 for his displaced tenants after a fire wrecked his apartment building and left them homeless.

In the initial incident report, under the header where it asks whether smoke detectors are present, it says: "NONE."

A couple who lived on the top floor says there were working devices installed, however, and it was their smoke detectors that actually woke them up and saved their lives.

"It was engulfed in flames," said an emotional Cody Rush-Ossenbeck.

The fire spread from the first floor up to the third of his apartment building in the 500 block of McMicken Avenue, wrecking what has taken him years of sweat equity to get just right.

Rush-Ossenbeck said it's pretty close to a total loss. His small family company has been rehabbing houses in OTR for years.

"My great-grandfather came here five generations ago from Germany and we've been in Over The Rhine ever since," said Rush-Ossenbeck.

He was exhausted and bleary-eyed when FOX19 NOW caught up with him Friday. He hadn't yet slept.

"The tenants in the building were able to get out safely and that's the most important thing, obviously," he said. "A building at the end of the day is a building."

When asked about the initial report that said there were no smoke detectors, he pointed out that the first floor got the worst of it.

"When we went through with the building inspector, George, they were all there," he said. "The reason I think they couldn't find them is that most of the wall is gone with them."

Before and after pictures of the upper floors show smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in each unit. He said his building passes the 36-point safety inspections twice a year.

The top floor couple's sweetheart puppy, Kane, died in the blaze. The dog wasn't even a year old yet.

The Red Cross has helped three of the four tenants get temporary shelter.

"The one that doesn't have any family locally is staying on our couch," said Rush-Ossenbeck. "A lot of tenants that we have are young professionals, they work in Over-The-Rhine. It's important, in my opinion, for people to be able to afford to live in the neighborhoods they work in, and there's a lot of people getting pushed out by high rents. We keep ours at about $1 a foot, which is cheap, but it's gonna be really hard for them to find a place to go because our rents are where they are."

You can see the landlord's Go-Fund-Me account progress right here.

The woman who lived on the bottom floor had burns to her face, FOX19 NOW is told. Her neighbors say her hair was also singed. Everyone else is OK.

The cause is still under investigation and that complete report will not be done for a few more days.

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