Couple jumps to escape flames

TOWN OF KIRKLAND — A man and woman who awoke Wednesday to find their apartment engulfed in flames were forced to jump to safety from a second-story window. They escaped with only a report of bruised ribs after a passerby had moved his pickup truck below the window to break their fall.

Fire officials said the couple were among 12 to 14 people displaced by the fire at the Old Carriage House Apartments.

"He said there was fire out near his balcony, near the wall. He tried to put it out, but it was out of his hands," said Clinton Fire Chief Mark Young. He did not know the name of the resident or his female companion.

The couple couldn’t get to the front door because "that area just got engulfed in flames, and they could get to the door," Young said.

So the couple opened up a bedroom window and called down to some of the people below. Several neighbors and passersby had already stopped and called 9-1-1 at 8:11 a.m. because of the fire. Young said one man below backed his pickup truck under the window to give the couple something to land on.

"It was a pretty good drop from the second floor," Young stated.

The man and woman landed safely in the back of the truck, though Young said the woman complained of pain to her ribs. She was treated and released from a local hospital.

Young said he was among the first responders to arrive at the apartment complex on Old Boorne Drive. Nearly 50 volunteers from three departments responded to the call at the 12-unit apartment building in the Village of Kirkland. He said about 12 to 14 people were evacuated and are now receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

"Upon arrival, everybody was out of the building," Young stated. "We had a large volume of smoke and fire on that second floor apartment, and it had already started going up through the roof. It was extending down the roof."

Young said the volunteers took two hose-lines up to the second floor for an interior attack at the apartment where the fire started. The firefighters had to kick down the locked door to get inside, and then it was only about 25 minutes before they had the flames under control.

"The guys went in and they made one hell of an attack on it, they knocked it down real quick," Young stated.The chief said the volunteers remained n the scene until about 1:30 p.m. dousing hot spots and checking for fire extensions. An aerial truck had been raised outside to cut holes in the roof during the firefight. About four to six apartments next to and below the first apartment sustained some smoke and water damage.

The cause remains under investigation today, Young said.

No one else was injured during the firefight. Young said he did not know if the couple had renters’ insurance. The property is owned by the Rome Management Company, Young stated.

The Clinton, Clark Mills and Westmoreland fire departments responded to the fire.