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Building control handed back to owners
Sunday, June 17, 2012
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Spruce Village representatives — not city officials — will determine when residents of apartments damaged by a fire Thursday can start living there again, said Martinsville Fire Marshal/Building Official Ted Anderson.
Although an investigation into the blaze is continuing, the city turned the entire building back over to Spruce Village’s control early Friday, he said.
Friday afternoon, many residents were being allowed to move back in. (See related story.)
Anderson said he thought 21 apartments were damaged by fire, smoke and water “to the point they cannot be occupied,” but the American Red Cross reported 36, based on information received from Spruce Village officials.
Whatever the number, Anderson said, “there’s no way they could get the apartments occupiable this weekend.”
Right now, “occupants can go in and get stuff out,” but they cannot stay, he said.
He could not determine how soon the damaged apartments could undergo enough repairs to make them livable.
When sheet rock in walls gets wet, it must be removed and replaced, said Anderson.
Investigators attributed the fire to arson. No arrests have been made, and investigators planned to consult with Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar, according to Anderson.
He identified a resident of the complex, Cheryl Lemons, as a “person of interest” because the fire originated in her apartment, No. 303. He said it may be next week before investigators can talk with her.
Anderson emphasized, however, that no charges have been filed in the incident. He said he did not know how soon an arrest — if one is determined appropriate — may occur as the investigation into the blaze is continuing.
The fire was reported to the Martinsville Fire Department about 11:20 a.m. Thursday. The call came in when a Flag Day ceremony was being held at the fire department.
Assistant Fire Chief Greg Reeves said some off-duty personnel took part in the ceremony. Firefighters on duty at the time were taking part in training exercises at a training site near the Henry County Public Safety office at the former DuPont plant site.
“They had just gotten done with the classroom portion” of their training and were about to start practicing what they had learned, Reeves said.
It took the firefighters slightly longer to get to Spruce Village on Spruce Street from the training center than it would have if they had been at the fire department, but that did not result in any problems, he said.
Had they actually been training when the call came in, it would have taken them longer to get to the apartment complex, Reeves said.
The off-duty personnel participating in the Flag Day ceremony later went to Spruce Village to help the firefighters on duty, he added.