Arson suspected in Norwood fire that trapped residents

Norwood apartment fire traps residents

NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - A Norwood apartment fire that displaced seven families over the weekend is being investigated as an arson.

Norwood Fire Chief Ron Wallace said he suspects someone purposely set the stairwell ablaze in a two-story apartment building on Lawn Avenue.

Several trapped residents were hanging out windows with heavy smoke and flames visible when fire crews pulled up about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, he said.

Firefighters rescued two people.

“When you set a fire in a stairwell, that’s a very serious thing," Wallace said. “That’s how people exit the building and in the middle of the night at 3:45 am., people are in bed sleeping.”

Everyone made it out safely, but two people were treated on scene for minor injuries, he said.

A trained arson dog handled by a fire investigator walked through the building later Sunday and indicated the possible presence of accelerant in several locations of the stairwell, according to Wallace.

Fire in Norwood considered suspicious

Accelerants are chemicals and other materials are used to set a fire and make it burn faster and spread further, he explained.

Fire investigators took samples and turned them over to the lab at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office for further testing, he said. It’s not clear how soon results will be back.

Damage is estimated at at least $25,000.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced families with lodging and food.

Fortunately, at the time of the blaze, Norwood Fire Department they had no other calls for service, the chief said.

That meant all 11 firefighters on duty were able to respond and simultaneously rescue people, extinguish the blaze and search to make sure no one else was trapped, he said.

Norwood has a mutual aid agreement with other fire departments, but they take longer to respond than ones already in Norwood, Wallace noted.

Anyone with information about the Lawn Avenue fire is asked to contact Norwood fire investigators: 513-458-4558.

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