Firefighters battle 2nd blaze in 2 days at vacant apartment complex

city considers options for vacant complex

shopkins@herald-leader.comJune 5, 2010 

Firefighters extinguished the fourth fire in two years, and the second in two days, at a vacant apartment complex on Codell Drive Friday morning.

Lexington fire Maj. Ed Davis said crews including arson investigators and police were surveying the units about 10 a.m. at Pennington Place Apartments when someone saw the smoke from the fire on the other side of the complex at 205 Codell Drive.

Two apartments were damaged by fire. Other apartments in the complex also had smoke and water damage.

Three firefighters fell while extinguishing the blaze. One firefighter hurt his back but had not sought medical attention as of Friday afternoon.

On Thursday, firefighters quickly extinguished a fire contained to one of the vacant apartments in the same complex at a building at 245 Codell Drive. No one was injured in that fire but a firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.

Davis said it's a "very, very good possibility" that the fires were intentionally set, but investigators have not yet identified a cause. There is no electricity in the buildings.

Assistant Fire Chief David Ades said Thursday that it would be up to the city to look into options such as demolition. Families often live illegally in the abandoned apartments.

City spokeswoman Susan Straub would not say Friday if the city has discussed whether the complex should be demolished.

"The city is considering a variety of options concerning Pennington Place Apartments," Straub said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. "Obviously there are health and safety concerns that must be addressed immediately."

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