CINCINNATI - Arrick Reeves can't forget that March morning in 2015 when neighbors began shouting in the hallway.
“I went to the door and opened it and when I opened it, smoke just shot into my apartment,” said the King Towers resident. “I closed the door and said, ‘Oh, man.’”
The five-story apartment building in Madisonville filled with smoke from a second-floor fire.
“We started kicking in doors and by that time a lot of people were headed outside,” Reeves said.
That's when firefighter Daryl Gordon headed inside.
“All praises go out to Mr. Daryl Gordon,” Reeves said.
Gordon was searching door-to-door for residents trapped in the building when he fell down an elevator shaft. In the smoky hallway, he hadn’t seen a warning his colleagues had written on the elevator door.
Gordon and other firefighters saved 12 residents that night, according to fire officials.
“Mr. Daryl Gordon saved a lot of lives at King Towers,” Reeves recalled.
Now the building has reopened with a new owner, Wallick Communities. Restoring the building cost $2.4 million, including a new elevator with safer accordion doors. The old door opened outward and didn’t latch properly.
The upgrades include brighter lights inside and outside, more smoke detectors, new cameras and lots of new paint.
The hallway leading to Apartment 27, where the fire began, is clean and bright.
In addition, Charles Tassell of Wallick said it is investing another quarter-million dollars on landscaping, playgrounds and basketball hoops to give the place more of a community feel.
“Money is only part of it because it's also about taking care of community because this isn't just a building, it's people living here. It's homes. It's how we make sure we take care of homes for people,” Tassel said.
Cincinnati Firefighters Union President Matt Alter agreed that the new owners have made the building safer, but Alter expressed concern about the sustainability of the property in the long term.
Tassell said they will stay on top of it.
“We plan to be long-time owners of this property,” Tassell said.
Reeves said the changes make him feel safer, but he knows Gordon will always be on his mind.
“Never forget him. Never,” Reeves said. “And, anybody in this building that was here, they’re not going to ever forget him. Believe me when I tell you that.”
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