High-Rise Residents Return To Building After Fire

Jamestown officials are reporting that all tenants in the high-rise apartment complex located on West Fifth Street have returned after being displaced by Monday’s fire.

“We’ve worked together with the city to reinspect all the apartments in the building, and they’ve all been cleared, except for the apartment where the fire originated,” said Joe Gerace, the Jamestown Public Housing Authority’s executive director.

Monday’s fire was limited to one apartment, but smoke and water damage forced the temporary relocation of the apartment building’s residents. Those who did not go Monday with family and friends were taken to Fluvanna Community Church. Some were allowed back into their apartments Tuesday while others returned throughout the week as repairs and cleaning were completed.

The Jamestown Police Department, New York State Police, Carroll Police, Ellicott Police, Celoron Fire Department, Alstar Ambulance, Chautauqua County EMS, American Red Cross and Jamestown Department of Development all responded to the scene of the fire Monday. City Housing Authority board members joined the list of area officials lauding the efforts of first responders who kept the fire, while tragic, from being worse than it was.

“We are extremely saddened by the death of one resident in whose unit the fire began,” said Sharon Hamilton, Jamestown Housing Authority board chairwoman, in a letter to The Post-Journal that can be found on Page A5 of today’s edition. “Our sincere condolences are extended to his family and friends. As elevators are inoperable during a fire, it was necessary for the firefighters to rapidly climb the 7 flights of stairs, carrying their equipment, to get to the burning unit. The fire was extinguished quickly. All residents were evacuated to safety from this nine-story building with the assistance of the professionals on site, as well as board members and staff. This included extra trips from those who returned to apartments to retrieve pets, medicine, and other items necessary for relocation.”

Fire department officials believe the apartment fire was started by unattended cooking, while Gerace also confirmed the actual location for the origins of this fire. The apartment where the fire originated was apartment 702, and the next of kin of the resident has been notified, he said.

Gerace extended his thanks and gratitude to the multiple firefighters and police officers who rescued residents and the quick response and reaction by the various city officials and department heads who helped.

“I would like to thank the various first responders who came to the aid of the building’s residents and the quick reaction by the mayor and the city officials and department heads in helping to make this as smooth as possible for the residents to return back to their homes,” he said.

Hamilton also took time to thank Gerace, who took over as executive director of the Jamestown Housing Authority after a lengthy tenure as Chautauqua County sheriff.

“Our thank you’ s would not be complete without recognizing the tremendous effort and coordination led by our Executive Director, Joe Gerace. We are fortunate that his knowledge, skills, and efforts were on site and will lead us through the days ahead as we address our building and tenants’ needs,” Hamilton said. “This experience, while tragic, has allowed us to see the best in humanity. So many of those on site were selfless in their energy and expertise and at the same time sincere and humble in their interactions with others. We, the Board of Commissioners at Jamestown Housing Authority, are proud to be a part of a community of dedicated professionals, strong leadership, neighboring community resources and resilient people. We are grateful, indeed!”


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