Northeast Times

Residents displaced by fire in Welsh Road apartment complex

A 2-alarm fire dam­aged sev­er­al apart­ments at At­ri­um Apart­ments on Welsh Road, caus­ing about 30 people to be tem­por­ar­ily dis­placed at Pol­lock School. The fire is be­lieved to be caused by a light­ning strike at about 3:30 am, Wenes­day, May 16, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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Nearly all of the 71 people dis­placed by an early Wed­nes­day morn­ing fire in their Welsh Road apart­ment build­ing found places to stay that night.

No one was in­jured in the two-alarm fire at the At­ri­um apart­ments on the 2500 block of Welsh Road, said Ex­ec­ut­ive Fire Chief Richard Dav­is­on.

The Red Cross housed only one fam­ily Wed­nes­day night at the Red Cross House in West Phil­adelphia, said Red Cross spokes­man Dave Schrader. All of the oth­ers were able to stay with fam­ily or friends.

Dav­is­on said the alarm came in at 5:47 a.m. Wed­nes­day and that fire­fight­ers found fire and heavy smoke on the build­ing’s fourth floor. A second alarm was soun­ded shortly after 6 a.m., he said. The fire, which was con­cen­trated on the fourth floor of the build­ing, was un­der con­trol by 7:10 a.m.

Res­id­ents were bused to the Robert Blair Pol­lock School about three-quar­ters of a mile away, where, said Schrader, about a dozen Red Cross vo­lun­teers provided food and wa­ter, and worked with the res­id­ents  on hous­ing ar­range­ments.

Out­side the Pol­lock School, Joanne Tsikelas, a fourth-floor res­id­ent, said the build­ing’s fire alarm went off after 3 a.m. dur­ing a thun­der­storm. Res­id­ents gathered in the lobby while the build­ing was checked, and then were told they could re­turn to their apart­ments.

It was about 90 minutes later, she said, that fire­fight­ers banged on her door to tell her to get out of the build­ing.

Colleen Adair, an­oth­er fourth-floor res­id­ent, said the hall­way was full of smoke when she left.

Fire­fight­ers did re­spond to that earli­er alarm at the build­ing and saw no sign of smoke or fire, Dav­is­on said.

One res­id­ent said he had heard a light­ning strike had sparked the fire, but Dav­is­on said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that a cause had not been de­term­ined.

On Wed­nes­day, Schrader had said the Red Cross came pre­pared with a truck­load of cots to set up in the school if more than 10 people needed shel­ter. If a slightly smal­ler num­ber had re­quired hous­ing help, they would have been put up in mo­tels.

Hours after the fire was out, some res­id­ents were al­lowed back in the build­ing to re­trieve medi­cines, Tsikelas said, but those whose apart­ments were heav­ily dam­aged were not per­mit­ted back, she said. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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