11 units destroyed, dozens displaced in Newport apartment fire

What started as a grease splatter turned into a blaze that robbed numerous families of their homes.
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 9:05 PM EST
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CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - A fire Thursday in Newport forced dozens of families from their residences.

The smell of smoke remains in the air at the Riverchase Apartments more than 24 hours later after the blaze broke out Thursday afteroon.

More than 25 units suffered some sort of damage.

The fire began in the kitchen of one unit. A resident in that unit says she’s thankful everyone was able to get out safely.

Giavanna Sowels says she rushed home from the grocery store after her son called to tell her their apartment complex was on fire.

“I couldn’t even pull down in the apartment complex. I had to park two blocks up the street, and I couldn’t get down there, and I thought, ‘Wow, this must be kinda major,’” she said Friday.

Sowels says she arrived to smoke pluming and fire crews engaged in their response.

“They was just throwing things out the balcony and out the windows, and it was just very scary to see,” she said. “I’m just glad that nobody got hurt.”

Sowels says the fire started from a grease splatter while her husband was cooking. From there, she says, it quickly got out of hand.

“So the blessing is that he got out of there, because they said the fire started going up the walls and into other apartments.”

Eleven of the 26 total units impacted are uninhabitable as a result, according to Marita Salkowski with the Red Cross.

“We will be offering those 11 families emergency financial assistance that is provided by the Red Cross,” Salkowski.

Sowels says while some of her valuables were destroyed, she was able to retrieve one irreplaceable item: An urn with her brother’s ashes.

“It was very intense,” she said. “It was powerful. It’s just, he’s here, and I’m just glad that he’s still here with me.”

Now Sowels is intent on moving forward after what she describes optimistically as an unexpected life change.

“I try to stay positive no matter what’s going on, because I know my heavenly Father is going to have my back no matter what,” she said. “So I just try to let it go and let Him handle it.”

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