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December 29, 2012

Cigarette blamed for fire at senior housing

PLATTSBURGH — Officials said a cigarette likely caused a couch fire in a unit of the Robert S. Long Apartments Friday afternoon.

The apartment belongs to Rose Willsi, who was still under evaluation in CVPH’s emergency room Friday evening.

Willsi was taken to the hospital by ambulance for secondary smoke inhalation, Assistant City Fire Chief Randy Stone said.

Dispatchers alerted City of Plattsburgh Fire Department to an automatic fire alarm at the apartment building at 2:18 p.m. Friday.

“I just heard her holler, ‘Help,’” said Margaret Davey, 77, who lives a few doors down from Willsi’s second-floor apartment.

A maintenance worker, whose name was unavailable, came to Willsi’s aid and carried her to safety over his shoulder, Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said.

Since the fire was controlled, residents were told they could remain in their apartments, Stone said. Those who wished to leave their apartments walked to the common area on the first floor and, according to emergency protocol at the high rise, sat waiting to hear when they could return to their units.

The fire allegedly started when Willsi dropped a cigarette on her couch, which lit the couch cushions, a blanket, pillow and some clothes that were on the couch, Racicot said.

The couch and items on it were extinguished and put in a dumpster in the parking lot of the building.

There was smoke damage to Willsi’s apartment and to the third and fourth floors, Stone said.

The apartment below Willsi’s sustained water damage, Stone said.

The extent of the damage to the apartment building, which is owned by Plattsburgh Housing Authority, was not yet clear, he said.

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

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