CINCINNATI — A man died following a fire at a Cincinnati apartment building on Christmas Eve that also displaced 15 people.
In a press statement, the Cincinnati Fire Department said crews responded at 8:10 a.m. to reports of a structure fire at the four-story Clifton Woods Apartments on Marshall Avenue. One person was found behind the door of the apartment where the fire occurred. The department said the person was immediately transported to a local hospital in critical condition.
The Hamilton County Coroner's Office identified the man as Aaron Battersby, 57, from Cincinnati. The coroner's report said he died on Christmas Eve at the UC Medical Center.
The fire was contained to the single apartment, but smoke damage was heavy across the top floor of the building and a few apartments on the floor below. Due to the size of the building and the intensity of the fire, a second alarm was sent, but those companies were not needed to control the fire.
Officials said they are still investigating what caused the fire, but most of the people living on the fourth floor of the building were displaced. Even though they cannot return home, one couple said they are feeling extra thankful following the fire.
"I could feel the heat," Alyssa Williamson said. "There was no hope of seeing anything — it was burning my eyes, my face."
Williamson and Eric Lowe were a few doors down from the unit where the fire started. They made it out of the building safely, but Williamson realized amid the chaos something was left behind.
"We were just focused on getting each other out," Williamson said.
Firefighters were able to rescue Wiliamson's cat, Xena, and quickly stop the fire.
"They made an outstanding stop, limiting this fire, the major damage of this fire, to one apartment building," Assistant Fire Chief Sherman Smith said. "This is historically a difficult area just because of the nature of how the architecture is set up — there's limited water. The companies that respond to here are already aware of that, so they have a pretty good plan as far as working to get enough companies back and access to the building."
Nathan Bowman said the fire escalated quickly, and was thankful it was not worse this holiday.
"By the time I heard the fire alarms, heard the running, the hallway was cleared — five seconds of me grabbing my jacket and shoes, the whole hallway was filled with black smoke," Bowman said.