Fire started in bathroom wall at The Alms apartments in Walnut Hills, assistant fire chief says

CINCINNATI -- A fire started in a bathroom at The Alms apartments Saturday morning, forcing some people from their homes.

Firefighters were called to the Walnut Hills high-rise, located on Victory Parkway near Taft Road, shortly after 11 a.m.

Assistant Fire Chief Roy Winston said crews discovered the fire in a wall of a seventh-floor bathroom. Flames extended up a pipe shaft to the roof, Winston said.

Fire crews called multiple alarms as a precaution, Winston said: Because of the building's size, firefighters weren't sure at first how much the fire might have spread, or how many people might need to be evacuated.

There was some work being done on the building, but Winston said it wasn't immediately clear if that work caused the fire. He estimated the fire caused about $20,000 in damage, mostly from smoke but also due to some pipes that melted in the heat.

Some residents went to a community room in the building while firefighters worked, while others waited in a heated Metro bus outside. Only the people in the unit where the fire started will have to stay elsewhere Saturday night, Winston said.

No one was injured.

The Alms was one of five properties included in a 2015 lawsuit, which alleged New Jersey-based PF Holdings ignored criminal activity and “willfully” concealed building hazards to cover up unsafe living conditions.

All told, more than 1,800 health and safety code violations had been issued for the five properties, according to city records.

A judged deemed the properties a public nuisance in late 2015 and, in Februay 2016, named Jodi Ridings of Milhuas Developer as the receiver of the communities. Work was expected to begin immediately on the most critical repairs.

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This story contains prior reporting by WCPO.com's Lisa Bernard-Kuhn.

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