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Fire at Waterfall Highrise in Elkhart damages 10th-floor apartment

A fire damaged a 10th floor room at the Waterfall Highrise in Elkhart and prompted the evacuation of the building.
Posted on Dec. 13, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 13, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.

ELKHART — A fire damaged a 10th-floor apartment at Waterfall Highrise on Friday, Dec. 13, and prompted the temporary evacuation of the building.

Elkhart firefighters quickly got it under control, though, and while the tenant in the room suffered from smoke inhalation, she refused medical treatment, said Dave Cushwa, battalion chief for the Elkhart Fire Department. No one else sustained any injuries.

The fire, called in around 12:30 p.m., remained under investigation, according to Cushwa. The tenant in whose apartment the fire occurred indicated to officials that it was accidental, he said.

The 10-story Waterfall Highrise, located east of downtown Elkhart on Waterfall Drive, is managed by the Elkhart Housing Authority.

Tenants streamed out when the fire was called in and milled around in the cold outside until allowed to return to the main floor.

Tyrone Pete, a seventh-floor tenant, was tipped off when the structure's fire alarm went off. Dan Russell, an eighth-floor tenant, said firefighters knocked on the doors of the rooms on his floor, instructing everyone to leave.

As of around 1:30 p.m., tenants were allowed to return to units up to the eighth floor. They weren't allowed to return to the ninth and 10th floors so firefighters could clear the smoke and clean up water used to fight the fire, Cushwa said.

Cushwa said the apartment where the blaze started sustained fire damage and other sections of the 10th floor may have some smoke and water damage. Residents on the top floors should be able to return to their rooms, he said.

Initially, as firefighters fought the blaze, black smoke was visible streaming from the top of Waterfall Highrise. Later, the exterior of a 10th-floor window appeared scorched, with the window and screen broken out.

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Posted at 12:12 a.m.
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