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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

North end apartment blaze routs 16 families

Ten pumper trucks and four ladder trucks respond to the three-alarm apartment blaze. Ten pumper trucks and four ladder trucks respond to the three-alarm apartment blaze.

A fire in a North Toledo apartment complex yesterday left at least 16 people homeless and several households in ashes.

The blaze at Bayview Apartments, Suder Avenue and Manhattan Boulevard, was probably started in a mattress by a 3-year-old child playing with a lighter, city fire Investigator Denis Bembenek said. The fire was reported at 9:37 a.m.

The Greater Toledo Chapter of the American Red Cross offered shelter and food at the Riverside YMCA to the 16 families affected by the fire, said Kristen Cajka, a Red Cross representative.

She said about 15 people were in the shelter last evening.

“She opened up the bedroom door, and the whole bed was on fire,” Ms. Taylor said. She got the children out of the apartment and phoned 911 before going to the manager's office.

Damage was assessed at $300,000, with four apartments damaged by fire and eight damaged by smoke and water.

The fire raged up from Ms. Taylor's apartment to that of Lonnie and Dawn Graves directly above her. From there, it went through the roof.

Mr. Graves said his and his wife's belongings had been boxed for a move. The couple had lived in Bayview for five years. “My wife smelled smoke. We stepped out in the hallway and saw a lot of smoke. We went through the building yelling at people to get out,” said Mr. Graves, 32.

William Hocking, manager of the apartment complex, said it recently had been renovated. He said he and others went through the building rousting people from their apartments.

“I went up there with a fire extinguisher, but it was well past that point,” Mr. Hocking said. “It's going to be hard on the people in there. The majority are low-income, and I doubt they have renter's insurance.”

The complex is rented at market rates ranging from $380 to $525 a month. Jeffrey and Kay Ziegler of Lambertville own the property, according to the Lucas County Auditor's Office.

Deputy fire Chief John Coleman said 10 pumper trucks and four ladder trucks responded to the three-alarm blaze. He said a fire wall in the attic helped contain the blaze to half of the 24-unit structure. No one was hurt.

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