16 residents get aid after apartment fire


The Red Cross will help provide food, home furnishings, relocation assistance, clothing and medication for the next month for about 16 residents after a Columbia apartment complex fire Saturday.

Meanwhile, other tenants of the complex are organizing a barbecue fund-raiser to help their neighbors recover from the three-alarm fire at the Chase Glen complex.

"Some of these people didn't have insurance, so they've got nothing," said Amy Chaffman, 26, a computer equipment saleswoman, whose apartment was in a neighboring building undamaged by the blaze and who is organizing the fund-raiser for this weekend with her husband, George.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal still is investigating the cause of the 4 a.m. blaze, which caused an estimated $1.1 million in damages and forced the evacuation of 60 people from 28 apartments in two connected buildings in the 10300 block of Hickory Ridge Road.

No residents were hurt, but three firefighters were treated for minor injuries in the blaze, which took two and a half hours to put out and drew more than 60 firefighters from five counties.

Investigators have determined that the fire started in a basement apartment, said W. Faron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal, yesterday. But structural damage to the building has hindered efforts to search the debris for clues, he said.

Although occupants have been able to move back into 12 of those apartments, 16 units remain uninhabitable, said Scott Knox, assistant director of emergency services for the Central Maryland chapter of the Red Cross.

The displaced tenants have been staying at local hotels, with friends or relatives or at other apartment complexes on short-term leases, Mr. Knox said.

The Red Cross primarily will work with the 16 people, some of whom don't have insurance, in 11 units that had significant damage, he said. The Red Cross provided personal care items for tenants in five other units that suffered serious

damages, but those people now are working on their own or through insurers, he said.

Between 25 and 30 people remain displaced by the fire, but have found lodging, Mr. Knox said.

Officials from Avalon Properties, which manages Chase Glen, did not return phone calls yesterday.

Local residents are pitching in to help those dislocated by the blaze.

The Chaffmans have been contacting local supermarkets, restaurants, liquor stores and rental equipment suppliers for donations to the fund-raising barbecue.

The fund-raiser tentatively is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Chase Glen apartments. Mrs. Chaffman said she expects the admission charge to be $5 a person, all of which would go toward needy families, assuming businesses come through with donated supplies.

Mr. Chaffman, an assistant chef at the Watergate Hotel restaurant in Washington, will be the cook, she said.

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