Sparta apartment fire could have been 'disastrous'
Alert neighbors are being credited with minimizing damage and possibly saving the lives of tenants, whose Goodman Court duplex in Sparta caught fire last weekend.
According to Sparta Area Fire District Chief Mike Arnold, Dawn Tomaszewski and Sarah Gillert, who live nearby, reported the blaze at 913 S. Goodman Ct. shortly after midnight on Saturday, March 3.
Arnold said the women realized the apartment was on fire and started pounding on doors and windows to alert the residents. Three male renters lived in the upstairs apartment, while a couple and their children lived downstairs.
According to Arnold, all the occupants were home and asleep before being awakened by Tomaszewski's and Gillert's knocking and evacuating the building safely.
Sparta police arrived on the scene first and observed flames rising from the back deck and climbing up the house. When firefighters arrived the blaze was spreading into the roof line.
Arnold said his crew took no time in knocking down the flames before sending firefighters into the attic to assess the situation. They remained on the scene for two hours.
"We were really fortunate that we were able to catch it as soon as we did," Arnold said. "It could have been disastrous."
Arnold believes the quick actions of the neighbors allowed for a rapid response and firefighters were able to keep damage to a minimum. In fact, the tenants were able to re-occupy the building that morning.
Arnold estimated damage to be between $5,000 and $7,000, and while the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, he believes it to be careless use of smoking materials.
The Monroe County 911 Communication Center, Sparta Area Ambulance Service and Sparta Police Department assisted at the scene.