Toxic fumes from car fire in parking garage force evacuation of condos

jwarren@herald-leader.comOctober 25, 2013 

Lexington firefighters evacuated residents from several condominiums at the Chevy Chase Plaza on Euclid Avenue Friday morning after smoke from a burning car filled the hallways.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes by around 9 a.m. after firefighters ventilated the building, Battalion Chief Joe Best said.

The incident occurred about 6 a.m. at High Street and Euclid Avenue when a car in the building's parking garage caught fire. The street was closed for about an hour while firefighters with at least 10 emergency vehicles worked the scene.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames in the burning Oldsmobile and then began evacuating condo residents because of fumes that had entered the building, Maj. Edward Crews said.

The fumes contained cyanide, according to Crews.

The building has about 11 condominiums on the fourth and fifth floors, Crews said. Offices are located on the second and third floors.

The owner of the car was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital to be examined. Crews said it wasn't clear whether the man was in the Oldsmobile when it caught fire.

Shortly after 6 a.m., condo residents gathered in the building lobby waiting for the all-clear, many wearing coats over their pajamas. Most said they were asleep or just getting up when the building alarm began.

Kyle Pierron sat on the floor, trying to calm her cat, Bella, who didn't like the noise, or being kept in a pet carrier.

Pierron said she was asleep when firefighters pounded on her door and said to get out.

"Of course, I grabbed my cat first," she said.

Pierron said she could smell smoke, "like burning rubber," as soon as she reached the hallway.

Joan Poe, who lives on the fifth floor, said she was already up drinking coffee when she heard alarms going off in the hallway. Poe said she looked out of the window, saw smoke "gushing up" and began knocking the doors of other residents on her floor.

Another resident, Lisa Barger, said Poe was "the angel that saved us."

Poe said simply, "Now, we just want to go back home and drink coffee."

The Oldsmobile was gutted by the fire. The cause has not been determined.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.

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