KNOX — One person was injured in a fire that heavily damaged a Best Avenue apartment complex at about 9 p.m. on Thursday.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Knox Volunteer Fire Department Chief Russ Cataldo II said he has asked the state police fire marshal to investigate the blaze.
Cataldo said Knox volunteers arrived on the scene within three or four minutes of being alerted to the blaze. A witness outside the home confirmed to firefighters a dispatch report of a man trapped in a third-floor apartment.
Cataldo said he immediately instructed his crew to get a 40-foot ladder up to the third-floor window, where the man was halfway outside the window and shouting for help.
“The smoke was pretty thick when we got the ladder up — conditions were about as bad as they could be,” Cataldo said. “My second assistant chief got up there and (the victim) was now unconscious.
“AC2 (second assistant chief) pulled him out. We had a hard time getting him down.”
The man was rescued from the apartment within five minutes of the firefighters’ arrival.
Cataldo said the decision was made by Knox Ambulance personnel to evacuate the victim via medical helicopter.
Cataldo instructed the helicopter to land on the baseball fields at nearby Knox Civic Park.
“It was closer than the elementary school,” he said.
The house and garage, all converted to apartments, are owned by Christopher Perry, of the Strattanville area. No damage estimate was immediately available.
Cataldo said the fire appears to have started in the rear of the building near the kitchen on the first floor, but he is not sure whether the fire started inside or outside.
After the entrapped individual was pulled from the building and all other residents were outside, firefighters focused their efforts on the flames.
Cataldo said the only access to the third-floor apartment was the outside stairs, which were damaged.
Cataldo said firefighters found the inside stairway to the third floor and broke through a wall at the top of the stairs to gain access to the apartment. Firefighters had doused the fires in the lower area of the building.
Cataldo said once inside the third-floor apartment, firefighters battling heavy and thick smoke were able to put out the fire there.
“It took some work to get it out,” Cataldo said.
Kristen Yeager, Knox Borough’s emergency management director, said Knox firefighters were assisted by volunteer fire departments from Shippenville, Emlenton, Parker, St. Petersburg and Seneca’s Rapid Intervention Team.
Perry Township Fire Department was dispatched to serve as standby at St. Petersburg’s station.
Yeager said St. Petersburg volunteers assisted in setting the landing zone for the medical helicopter.
Fire in Shippenville
While firefighters battled the blaze in Knox, Shippenville/Elk Township Volunteer Fire Department was alerted to a possible structure fire at 9:50 p.m. along North First Street in Shippenville.
Cataldo said Shippenville’s main pumper truck was blocked in at the Knox fire, but a couple of Shippenville volunteers were able to leave Knox in the Shippenville rescue truck.
Clarion Fire and Hose Co. No. 1 and the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to the Shippenville fire.
Clarion County 911 said Clarion volunteers arrived at the scene, and quickly reported the situation was under control and the incident was not a major issue.
Washington Township’s response was canceled while the trucks were en route.