A fire that ripped through the third floor of an Albion apartment building, leaving more than 60 residents without a place to live is deemed an arson.
34 year old Charles Beck was arraigned on charges of arson and risking catastrophe in front of District Justice Stuck- Lewis.
According to the criminal complaint a neighbor saw Beck standing in the hallway near where the fire started.
Another neighbor found a blue Bic lighter that may have been used.
Crews were called to the Barnett apartment building in Albion for a fire that began on the third floor.
It’s believed to have started in a storage room around 3:30 Thursday afternoon.
Jesse Cleaver, Albion Fire Department chief, says, “The way this building was built and where the fire was, it took about 20 minutes to find it and then another 20 or so to put it out and gain control of that.”
Sixty to 70 people now without a place to live.
Residents say they didn’t think much about it when the alarms went off.
Chuck Griffis, resident, says, “Got my boots and my jacket and came downstairs. Thought it was just another someone burning toast or something.
But came outside to find it wasn’t a drill.
Griffis says, “Everything was ok. And then in a short period of time there was smoke coming out the roof vents. It just started going really quick and really bad.”
The Albion Fire Department opening its doors for residents.
The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Erie County Emergency Management and volunteers donating food, water and places to stay.
Andrew Jarvis, Erie County Emergency Management, says, “Making sure we have medications for the elderly that are in this building. Making sure that we got food getting arranged to set them up with that. And also shelter until we get a better feel for how long they’re going to be out of this.”
Cleaver says more than a dozen fire departments from two different states helping knock down the fire.
Cleaver says, “This has always been a threat in Albion. With the amount of people that are here, the amount of people that need to be evacuated. And you just need as many people as you can to help get that done.”
The Red Cross set up a shelter at St. Lawrence Church in Albion.
The Housing Authority and the relief organizations are working on placing people.
It’s still unknown how long residents will not be allowed in the building because of smoke and water damage on all the floors and fire damage to the third floor.A