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Columbia crews battle fire at apartment complex

The American Red Cross is continuing to assist with emergency needs for residents displaced after a fire at Ash Street Place Apartments in Columbia Tuesday.

Over 20 emergency units responded to the apartment complex off Stadium Boulevard in Columbia for a two-alarm fire Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday, the Red Cross and its volunteers with be at the apartment’s main office from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to meet with residents and figure out what their emergency needs are.

Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Columbia and Boone County fire crews received a call for a structure fire at the complex. Officials say the fire started on the third floor of one of the buildings.

Firefighters say the fire stayed in that general area, but then spread into the attic space and through the roof.

According to Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Brian Davison, the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in a third floor apartment bathroom

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control in under an hour, but stayed on scene for five hours to battle hot spots and attempt to salvage contents in the building.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer tells ABC 17 News that the apartments were in violation of fire codes.

He says the building did not have manual pull-down fire alarms and that fire officials had been talking with the apartment’s owners prior to the fire. The building is owned by St. Louis-based Mills Properties.

No one was injured in the fire but it caused $450,000 in damage.

Red Cross and fire officials say 66 apartment units cannot be occupied Tuesday evening due to either fire damage or loss of power. Six apartments and the building’s roof sustained heavy fire damage while many others suffered smoke and water damage.

Columbia Fire Department will conduct a thorough evaluation of the building on Wednesday to determine if parts of the building can be reoccupied.

Residents left homeless from the fire say they have nowhere to go.

“It put people in a pickle here, that don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Taylor Hume, who was evacuated from one of the affected buildings.

“I’m 18 and I had a lot going for myself at this point,” said Kenysha Kopcsos. “I had my whole apartment figured out and just lost everything, so it’s kind of starting from scratch again.”

Fraizer says the American Red Cross and fire marshals are helping displaced residents find a place to stay.

The Red Cross opened a shelter for residents at the Broadway Christian Church Tuesday night.

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