Two apartments were destroyed but no one was injured after a fire tore through an apartment complex on the 500 block of E. Nields Street Friday morning. While the university doesn’t own the building, its residents are all West Chester students.
The fire started sometime before 11 a.m., and originated in a unit on the complex’s second floor before spreading to the apartment directly above it. Fire personnel from Fame Fire Co. and First West Chester Fire Co. are still investigating its cause.
Earl Widergren, the building’s owner and landlord, said that while the two apartments were completely destroyed and will have to be rebuilt, the rest of his complex is fine.
“Kids are back in them already,” he said of the surrounding apartments.
Widergren said the damage was limited because the building was constructed with concrete block walls.
“It there’s a fire in here, it goes up. It does not go laterally.”
Nick Baionno, a resident of the building, said that while his apartment was unaffected, it was a harrowing morning.
“[I smelled smoke] at like 11:30, maybe a little earlier. I heard a window shatter, then I heard the alarms going off in the stairwell. When I went downstairs, there were cops everywhere yelling at us to move.”
The residents of the unit where the fire originated, two young men, stood behind the trucks and watched the crews work. They declined to comment.
“They’ve got to find a place to live and be in class at 4:30,” Widergren said, sympathetic.
E. Nields Street, in the area of the apartment, reopened at 1:45 p.m.