News and Tribune

Clark County

May 15, 2012

Fire destroys Jeffersonville apartment

Woman and service dog were able to escape the blaze; building was recently purchased

JEFFERSONVILLE — A downtown Jeffersonville fire at a four-unit apartment building destroyed one unit and left others damaged by smoke and water.

The fire started at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 900 block of East Maple Street. Robin Benton, 42, lived in the second-floor apartment where the fire originated. She said she noticed smoke coming out of her window air conditioner unit.

“It sparked and it started shooting out flames,” she said, as she sat on a stretcher breathing in oxygen as firefighters continued to battle the blaze. “I tried to put a blanket on top of the cord that caught fire and it burned me, so I got out.”

She and her service dog, Boo, made it out of the apartment safely. Benton did have a few wounds on her from the sparks. Police said another woman in a downstairs apartment also was evacuated. The rest were not home at the time.

Jeffersonville Fire Department Chief Eric Hendrick said the apartment was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.

“We were able to isolate the fire to that one unit,” he said.

Hendrick said 20 firefighters responded to the fire. He said that one unit appears to be a complete loss. Hendrick said there were no injuries caused by the fire.

Owners Jerry Windell and Brian Dill said they just purchased the building in October as their only rental property. Windell said since Benton’s apartment was empty at that time, they did a complete remodel, including new plumbing, carpet, paint and more.

“My relief is that nobody got hurt. That’s my main concern,” Windell said. “I’m just glad everybody got out.”

He said though the fire was contained to that one unit and the attic, he believes renovations will have to be done throughout to fix water and smoke damage. He said he does have insurance to cover those costs.

Windell said the building was built in the 1920s, but had been redone since, including having new electrical prior to the two purchasing the building last fall. Windell said seven adults lived in the four apartments. He said one apartment also had children, but he was unsure of how many.

For Benton, this story is all too familiar. Benton’s daughter, Kayla Lustig, said her mom lost a home about eight years ago in Palmyra because of a candle left lit that combined with an oxygen machine to cause an explosion. She said her mom does not have renter’s insurance.

Anyone wishing to help the family can call 812-206-2157.

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