Blaze Destroys Ohio Condo Complex

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP -- A team of state arson investigators will start sifting through the rubble of a Springfield Township condo complex on Tuesday morning. 16 families were left homeless when a major fire destroyed one building in the Hidden Cedars condominiums complex. That's on Garden Road near the intersection of Holland-Sylvania Road.

The first call came in just after 6:00pm on Monday. Eyewitnesses say the flames broke out in unit B, one of the 16 buildings in the complex. The first crews on the scene found flames shooting from the roof. Eyewitnesses on the scene say they also heard loud pops from the burning building. By 8:15pm, building B was burned to the ground.

Springfield Township fire officials say two people received minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals by ambulance. One had smoke inhalation, the other had burns to the face. One person was also treated at the scene for minor injuries.

12 hours later, units were still on the scene putting out hot spots. That effort was expected to continued well into Tuesday moring. At the height of the fire, Springfield Township Fire Department had help from Maumee, Toledo, Monclova Township, and Perrysburg. The 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard at Toledo Express Airport also sent trucks and firefighters.

News 11 reporter Shelley Brown talked to Tina Wise, who lived in the building. Wise said she was watching the news when she heard the fire alarm go off in her building. She saw a neighbor break the glass on a fire extinguisher box, and run. At that point, Wise says she closed the door and called 911.

She says she was able to grab her purse and her dog and get out. "I lost everything. I have [my dog.] I can recover, I can do it," said Wise.

Brown also talked to Rodney Henreddy, who said he lived in the condo where the fire started. He told Brown the fire started in a kitchen, and he tried to help put the fire out until the flames got too intense.

Building B was a complete loss. Three other buildings were evacuated.

Firefighters said high winds and cold temperatures made it harder to fight the fire. Just when the flames appeared to be dying down, they shot up again. Sustained winds at the time of the fire were in a range from 14 to 17 miles per hour, with gusts in the low 20's.

The intense heat from the fire melted a nearby streetlight, and also set fire to nearby trees. A cloud of smoke and ash has covered the complex..

Lucas County Sheriff's deputies assisted with crowd control and evacuations. Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers kept motorists moving on US 23/I-475, not letting them stop to watch the fire.

There was an incredible outpouring of support for the victims of the fire. American Red Cross set up a shelter at Resurrection Lutheran Church in the 2200th block of Holland-Sylvania Road, and in the first couple hours of its operation, dozens of people brought clothes, food, and other donations.

"[We] had just overwhelming donations and help from the community. The outpouring in just a few hours that this disaster occurred has been tremendeous." said Gary Loboschefski, a Red Cross Response Coordinator. "It will energize our whole church for quite awhile I'm sure, just to help out," said Pastor Jeff Mittelstadt of Resurrection Lutheran Church.

"My partner he got some blankets for us and some towels for when we go to the hotel we will be okay," said fire victim Damian Johnson.

American Red Cross spokesperson Kristin Cajka said the Red Cross deals with fires every day, but an incident of this magnitude is unique even for them.

Sylvania Animal Hospital stayed open all night to treat animals who were hurt by the fire. Veterinarians from the hospital went to the scene to treat animals. They ended up taking two cats and one very special dog back to the hospital for treatment. "He's 14 years old, he seems really shy and frightened about the whole situation," said veterinary assistant Amanda Dodson. Coming here and not having his owners, he was frightened."

"I heard that they couldn't get the animals out so alot of people just opened the doors or opened their windows, or knocked their screens out hoping that the animals would run out," said veterinary assistant Coutney Ishman.

A search of News 11 archives shows the same complex suffered a major fire in July of 2000. At that time, a fire started in building H, and spread to building G, leaving about 40 people homeless.

Count on News 11 to follow the investigation as it develops.

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