W.Va. Apartment Building Fire Hospitalizes Five

Five people were taken to the hospital, including two children with injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to burns after a Westover fire.

Feb. 01-- A fire destroyed an apartment building in Westover, Friday morning sending five people to two hospitals.

Four of the five victims were taken to Pittsburgh area hospitals. One victim, a 3-year-old, was taken to the West Penn Burn Center.

Officials did not release names of the victims in time for this report.

The complex was on Nebraska Avenue and the blaze was first reported around 6:30 a.m.

Levar Carter lived in the apartment complex and said he woke up and heard a faint yell. He then opened the door to the hallway.

"It was just full of smoke," Carter said. "It was all black." Carter and others who were in the complex said the fire was quick-moving. "One second, no fire and next, it was everywhere," Carter said. Another tenant -- James -- lived on the third floor of the complex. The Dominion Post agreed not to use his last name for privacy. He said he was awakened by a roommate's boyfriend who told him they had to leave.

James said they could see the smoke coming in and he was able to put some clothes in a bag and toss it out the window before heading down the fire escape. Outside, they could see flames shooting out of the structure.

"We could see the building was going to be a complete loss," he said.

There were smoke detectors in the building and they were going off, James said.

It took about 10 minutes for the building to be completely engulfed by the blaze, James said.

Brian Pettis didn't live in the building, but helped people get out when the fire started. He said there was a man with two kids on the fire escape and Pettis said he got him to hand one kid down.

There was another child who appeared to be injured on the fire escape, Pettis said. The child was covered in soot, but they also got him down.

Carter said there was one woman who got caught in the fire and there was a man who went back to help who was burned. James said the woman was badly burned in the incident.

As the complex burned to the ground, Carter said he was thanking God that he awoke when he did. Cindy Lavitsky, who was staying in the complex, agreed.

"If he didn't wake up, we would have all died," she said.

There were 12 apartments in the complex, Westover Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Brad Wilson said. There were four people in each apartment, with one vacant unit.

Jimmy Smith, assistant director of Monongalia County Office of Emergency Management said they were working with the Red Cross to help those displaced by the fire and a shelter was established in Granville for the victims.

Wilson said five people were taken to the hospital, including two children. The victims had various injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to burns.

No cause of the fire has been determined. Wilson said when they arrived on scene the building was in flames.

"The fire was pretty advanced," he said.

Volunteer firefighters from across the county responded to the scene. Westover and Granville Police and Mon EMS also responded.

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