Dayton apartment fire victims offered ‘a place to lay your head’

At least eight victims of the Marvin Gardens Apartments fire on Warren Street will be calling the Dayton Convention Center home for the next couple of days.

Area Red Cross Executive Director Cory Paul said case workers are working to learn everyone’s recovery plans after the fire. The Red Cross will let people stay as long as they need, Paul said.

“You can come and go as you please. This is a place to lay your head,” Paul said of the convention center. “We’re not kicking anybody out. We want to make sure we have a good idea of everyone’s recovery plans.”

Nearly two dozen people were displaced by the fire, which affected all 25 units in the apartment building. Some units had damage from the fire or smoke, others sustained water damage.

Dayton Fire District Chief Brad Baldwin said the apartment building is uninhabitable because of the electrical fire. All occupants self-evacuated, except for one person firefighters helped out of the building.

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No one was injured in the fire.

Many residents do not yet have a timeline for when they could be back in their apartment, Paul said.

“Some apartments only had smoke damage, others were fully engulfed,” he said.

Idella Poole was cooking in her kitchen when she saw black smoke outside the window. Her niece called to tell her the building was on fire, and her initial reaction was to try to get her neighbors out.

“I started bamming on doors,” Poole said, “saying ‘It’s a fire, everybody get out.’”

Poole was able to stay at her mother-in-law’s house Wednesday night, but some of her neighbors slept in the convention center on cots, she said.

“I didn’t lose what a lot of other people lost,” Poole said. “It’s just the point of we can’t go back home.”

Red Cross volunteers posted signs at the apartment building on Wednesday welcoming residents to the shelter because some residents may have been at work or elsewhere when the fire broke out.

Red Cross volunteers are experts at disaster recovery, Paul said.

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“We want to make this as home as possible,” he said.

Crews battled the fire on both sides of the building for about 45 minutes before bringing it under control, Baldwin said.

“It went from the second floor all the way up to the roof very quickly,” Baldwin said. “It’s not livable at this time. The whole complex suffered heavy smoke damage.”

Baldwin would not estimate the dollar amount in damage to the building and its contents, but said the damage was “substantial.”

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