A maintenance worker soldering copper piping inadvertently heated drywall and sparked a fire at a West Toledo apartment complex, authorities said.
The repair work was underway in the kitchen of a lower-level apartment.
The fire in the drywall spread to the building's framing "and took off," Battalion Fire Chief Bill Sulewski said at the scene of the afternoon blaze. "It was all wood truss construction."
The fire at 2059 Alexis Rd. in Timber Run Apartments was reported at 1:40 p.m. A caller gave a wrong address - 2359 West Alexis - causing the crews to be dispatched to the wrong location at 1:42 p.m., Chief Sulewski said.
That delayed the arrival of the fire crews by several minutes, he said.
"I was on the phone with my boyfriend when I smelled smoke," Melissa Harpel, 31, a Toledo dry-cleaner, said. "I grabbed my son and got out. They [firefighters] later told me that by that time, the fire had spread to the roof."
Ms. Harpel's son, Philip Werich, 4, was standing by her side, tugging at her sleeve, apparently impatient to get back home. It was about 3:15 p.m., the time firefighters started to allow the residents back into the building.
When fire crews arrived, the fire had spread throughout the three floors of a 12-unit apartment building section. The occupants had escaped unhurt.
Firefighters then evacuated the two adjoining 12-unit sections.
Within just over an hour, firefighters had extinguished the fire and allowed residents of the adjoining sections - including Ms. Harpel and her son - to return to their apartments.
Red Cross later assisted residents of the affected section with accommodations. Residents will be allowed to return today to salvage their belongings, Chief Sulewski said.
Chief Sulewski estimated the loss at $240,000 - $180,000 to the structure, and $60,000 in contents.
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