Press-Republican

Local News

January 4, 2013

Woman injured in fire still in hospital

PLATTSBURGH — A local woman who suffered secondary smoke inhalation from a recent fire at her apartment remained hospitalized in stable condition on Thursday.

The blaze in the unit at the Robert S. Long Apartments on Oak Street started when Rose Willse dropped a cigarette on her couch, Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said.

Plattsburgh City Fire Department Lt. Todd Aley was first to arrive at the senior-housing high rise on Dec. 28, said Capt. Edmund Sanderson.

Willse had collapsed in the hallway outside her apartment, with heavy smoke present, he said. Aley carried Willse over his shoulder to safety with Sanderson’s help.

PURSE SALVAGED

Firefighters made holes in the walls of Willse’s apartment and used thermal-imaging cameras to make sure there were no flames within, Sanderson said.

“The entire building was searched for life safety because of the considerable presence of smoke,” he said.

And then the high rise, owned by Plattsburgh Housing Authority, was ventilated. Residents weren’t evacuated, but some waited in the lobby until the building was cleared.

As much of Willse’s property was salvaged as possible, including her purse, Sanderson said.

The City Fire Department, dispatched to the fire at about 2:30, was back in service just after 5 p.m. Crews from the South Plattsburgh and Plattsburgh District 3 departments stood by in the city’s stations, Sanderson said.

UNIT UNINHABITABLE

While Plattsburgh Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Cantwell didn’t specify whose unit was damaged in the fire, she did say it has been deemed uninhabitable.

It will have to be gutted and undergo a complete renovation. However, the building did not suffer any structural damage as a result of the blaze.

“The scope of the damage is what I would call heavy cosmetic,” she said.

Cantwell was uncertain when the apartment renovation would take place, as Housing and Urban Development must first remove the unit from inventory and the damages must be assessed by an insurance adjuster.

In addition, a unit below Willse’s suffered water damage as a result of the efforts to suppress the blaze. However, that apartment remains habitable, according to Cantwell, and should be repaired fairly quickly.

—Staff Writer Ashleigh Livingston contributed to this report.

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