GREENUP Stone Side Apartments on Perry Street in Greenup caught fire early Tuesday morning. Resident Charles Pennington said he was still asleep when his fire alarm went off, and as he hastily exited the building, he said that firefighters were already on the scene.
Pennington’s apartment is on the first floor, and initial reports indicated that there were at least seven individuals on the structure’s second floor who had not yet been evacuated. Firefighters from five departments — Greenup, Russell, Flatwoods, South Shore and Wurtland — focused their initial efforts on rescue, and were able to account for those individuals.
Kentucky Deputy State Fire Marshal David Broderick praised the efforts of local firefighters, and credited both their training and quick response with the rescue of residents. Broderick could not comment on the source of the blaze due to the ongoing investigation, and the fact that the fire was not completely extinguished as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, eight hours after the first flames.
“We will need to look at all of the evidence, and interview witnesses,” Broderick said. “And at that point we can make a call.” Broderick said the investigation might take several days depending upon what was discovered.
“At this point what we can say is that there was a fire in the building, and no one with the exception of one individual was injured. He was transported to the local hospital for treatment, and has since been released from the hospital,” he said. “This was a great job on the fire departments’ behalf. Search and Rescue evacuated the building with no casualties. Their good safety procedures and their training helped them to safely put out the fire without injury to themselves as well. They did a spectacular job, especially when you look at the age of the building, and the materials used in its construction, they did a spectacular job.”
The fire left in excess of a dozen families homeless, escaping only with the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly carry on their person as they fled the blaze. But as local fire departments mobilized to fight the blaze, the community itself began addressing the needs of their neighbors. The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office (within sight of the burning building) posted on social media, “Our hearts are broken for the residents of Stone Side Apartment complex, this is a time for our community to pull together and take care of our own. We will be taking up donations for the residents at the Greenup County Circuit Clerk’s Office. Anything will help and nothing is too small, clothes, household items, and basic day to day necessities. Thank You! We are Greenup County Strong!”
Local churches also stepped up to help the residents of Stone Side. “It really wasn’t a planned or orchestrated thing, it just sort of happened,” Amy Dowdy of the Greenup United Methodist Church said. “It’s a church thing. When I came in this morning, we had a woman come in (from Stone Side) with two birds and nowhere to go. Within an hour we had a room full of food, clothes and toiletries. The residents had evacuated so early, and they had not had time to brush their teeth or comb their hair; but we helped them out with those things. And the community just came together, like a miracle.”
Dowdy said the church works with the community to help remedy the suffering from catastrophes such as the Stone Side fire. “We don’t have procedures or anything like that,” she said. “We just do what we are led to do.”
Dowdy said that the church is in the process of taking donations such as those already offered by the community, and if anyone is interested in donating they can call the church at (606) 473-9236. And though they are focused on current needs, Dowdy said that the displaced residents will soon be facing possibly overwhelming financial needs as well.
“There is the question of where they are going to live,” Dowdy said, pointing out that even if the apartment complex they fled can be reopened in the future, that would be many months down the road. “And many of the residents had their utilities included in their rent, and they might not be able to find that at another apartment complex.
So, while the Greenup United Methodist church, and their neighbor church the Greenup Christian Church, are busy trying to meet the immediate needs of those who have lost everything, they are also concerned with their future as well.
“We provided the Red Cross with a place where they could meet with the residents so they could complete their application,” Dowdy said. “And we got an idea about how many people were involved, and what we would need to meet their needs. We started with an empty church, and it quickly began filling up with food. We served them breakfast and lunch, and made sure they had clothes.”
Dowdy said that her church is working closely with the Christian Church, who will be setting up to receive donations of furniture
Anyone interested in helping, whether by donation or volunteering, can contact the churches, the Red Cross, and the Greenup Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.