Investigators continue to search for cause of Elkhart building fire
Posted: 10/07/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Sharon Hernandez
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Residents stand across Union Street and look at the heavily damaged building following an early morning fire in the back apartments at 313 Union Street Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. Three residents were injured in the fire. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Elkhart Fire Department inspector Robert Smith takes photographs of the heavily damaged back section of the building as he investigates an early Tuesday morning fire. The fire at 313 Union St. injured three residents.
Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard
Elkhart Fire Department inspector Robert Smith walks around the heavily damaged back section of building as he investigates an early morning fire Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. The fire at 313 Union Street injured three residents. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Firefighters were called to 313 Union St. around 6:45 a.m. They had the fire under control in 30 minutes, but the two rear apartments were destroyed.
After an inspection of the building, fire investigators told Steve Pletcher, the owner of the building, that the cause was not attributed to its maintenance.
The insurance company for the building will take part in the investigation, and Smith said investigators will keep the department updated with any results from their part.
Smith said he found a gas can while cleaning out the rear apartment on the first floor. He determined the living room of the apartment was the origin of the fire.
The fire department also collected a backpack, which witnesses said was thrown behind a nearby dumpster by a man they saw running from the scene.
Some residents pointed to suspicious activity coming from the rear apartment on the first floor.
Smith said he knew two people had been transported to the hospital. He believed Stephanie Sandusky and Jennifer Mullins, residents at the rear apartment on the first floor, were the ones injured. After checking with paramedics, he confirmed that Sandusky had been taken to Bronson Burn Center in Kalamazoo with burns on her legs. She is now listed in fair condition.
However, Smith learned that the other person taken to the hospital was Drew Williams, who lived with Sandusky.
Williams was found sitting on the stairwell leading to the apartments on the second floor with burns on his hands and a leg.
Mullins was not taken to the hospital, nor was she found at the scene.
Other occupants of the apartments, about five of them, were able to escape.