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Police and fire

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Morning fire routs 50 near downtown

Traced to basement at apartment units

– All 50 residents displaced by an apartment fire early Wednesday were able to return to their homes, city fire officials said.

Fire crews were called at 5:25 a.m. to Riverview Terrace Apartments, 1823 Griswold Drive, just east of Spy Run Avenue and north of downtown.

Heavy smoke was billowing out of the second and third floors as crews entered buildings H and J. Firefighters discovered the blaze in the basement area shared by both buildings.

The fire was quickly extinguished and was determined to be under control by 5:48 a.m. The buildings had heavy water and smoke damage, a report said.

By the time crews arrived, most of the 50 residents had been evacuated, but firefighters helped the remaining residents out of the buildings. Five occupants from the two apartments directly above the basement were taken by emergency workers to a hospital for minor smoke inhalation, said Robert Rippe, the apartments’ maintenance supervisor.

Two pets were killed in the blaze, but no residents were seriously injured, according to the report. No firefighters were injured.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Miller said all residents returned to their apartments by early afternoon.

Standing in the basement of the apartment complex Wednesday afternoon, Rippe described the area as “completely destroyed.”

“The hallways are black, the basement is completely black. We had some storage units downstairs as well, and those are a complete loss,” Rippe said.

Rippe was sleeping at his home when he received a call about 5:30 a.m. from the fire department.

“The fire itself didn’t go any farther than the basement. Where the pipes go up through the floor, there was some smoke that way and smoke billowed up through the hallways,” Rippe said.