Ohio Man Runs Jumps Out of Shower to Flee Fire

May 5, 2008
Firefighters experienced water problems.


People living in a Huber heights apartment building said they heard pops and booms, things that sounded like explosions, then spotted flames tearing through their homes.

The fire happened at a 4-unit apartment building in the 5300 block of Hilgeford Drive around 11 p.m. Sunday.

IMAGES From Huber Heights Apartment Fire

One man said he was cleaning up when he was forced to run for his life. Larry Blanken said, "I was in the shower and I heard a loud bang and I got out and opened the door when thick black smoke rolled into the bathroom."

Blanken ran out of his burning house. His neighbor, Nora Jackson, said she also heard a boom and smelled smoke and described Blanken's run for safety "my next door neighbor came out buck naked. He came out that door buck naked, screaming help me, help me."

Firefighters said they spotted flames and smoke shooting from windows, doors and the roof when they rolled up. The flames eventually climed as high as thirty feet above the roofline.

Firefighters said they then experienced problems with getting water to the apartments, something that frustrated them and residents.

Huber Heights Fire Chief Bill Ford said the problems began with Hilgeford Drive which is a dead-end street. "We had some long hose lays, it just took a long time to do that and get a good water flow. Plus, we're at the end of the system here, it's where the water main dead-ends so it's not capable of flowing a lot of water, we had to go back to Bellefontaine Street to get the water flow we needed."

Paramedics took Larry Blanken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. All other residents of the apartment building will need to find temporary housing with friends and family or through the Red Cross.

Investigators said three of the four units in the building were occupied, only one remains undamaged and two are completely destroyed.

Firefighters aren't sure if the pops and booms residents reported hearing actually started the fire or if that was happening as the flames shorted out things like fuse boxes, electrical lines and transformers.

They said they plan to return to the building sometime Monday morning to attempt to track down how the fire started and where it began.

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