The Fire

Thursday, March 29 - 2001


A five-alarm fire completely destroyed my apartment and everything within it - my balcony is shown engulfed in flames in the first picture; it's the third one on the top floor from left to right. Flames shoot from the roof of my apartment in pictures 4 and 6. Local news articles follow the photos (although I'm not quite sure what happened to them all - only a few remain from the 15 or so that I had). To see more photos of what the building looked like after the fire, go here.

My girlfriend (at the time) and I left for a vacation to visit my family in Indiana the morning of the 29th; the fire started in the late afternoon and spread quickly. I lost everything except for what I took with me and what I had randomly left at my girlfriend's house: a couple bags of clothes, some 30 or so CD's, my acoustic guitar, my video camera, and some other odds and ends like my checkbook, address book, and backpack. Unfortunately, a friend from the zoo was temporarily staying at my apartment until he could find a place of his own and had stored some of his stuff there, too - his bed, desk, clothes, VCR, etc. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured. Some 80+ apartment units were completely destroyed, and another 20 or more severely damaged.

I cannot leave out those who have reached into their own bank accounts to graciously donate money to me. Their amazing generosity has allowed me to regain much of what I have lost. I am forever in debt to these people: Frank & Essie Rothermel, Tim & Kathy Westhoven, the entire Animal Department of the Philadelphia Zoo, AFSCME Local 752, Julie Unger-Smith, Dennis & Wendy Oberlin and the American Red Cross & the community of Norristown PA, whom collectively have given up $2,827 of their own dollars (and a Monkees CD) to help me get back a lot of my crap. Thanks to Kohl's, ACME Markets, Levitz Furniture, K-Mart, King Of Prussia Mall and Sears for participating in the Red Cross's voucher program. And to Sheri... who allowed me to make her house my home: I cannot express in words the appreciation I have for what you gave me.

Korman Suites apartments engulfed in flames
March 29, 2001
by Tom Burlington
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A raging fire burned at an apartment building in Norristown Thursday. An entire building was engulfed in flames. This is the Korman Suites apartments in Norristown. NBC10's Tom Burlington has the story.

RESIDENTS CAME HOME to find their home had been engulfed in flames. The fire reportedly broke out around 4:45 p.m. Thursday and it wasn't long before the flames turned into two-alarms, with more than five companies responding. "I looked across the street. There was nothing but smoke. Then I heard the fire alarms, but I still wasn't sure yet because they come here (to Korman Suites Apartments) so many times a month, whether it's false alarms or whatever. I was quite surprised to see all of this," said Tony, who lives near the apartments. Part of the roof collapsed. Firefighters had a tough time bringing the flames under control. "It spread very fast," Tony said. "This is all timber. There's not too much masonary in here except of the shell." NBC10 News was first on the scene. Korman Suites instructed residents in building S to come to building M and they would have a temporary place to stay. It is unknown how many people were displaced because of the blaze. The American Red Cross was also on the scene offering assistance to the residents. As of 6:15 p.m. Thursday, there was no word on what caused the blaze. No one was reported injured. A Norristown police officer had to be rescued from the scene, but no word on why.

Fire Devastates Apartment Complex
Norristown, PA Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 10:17 PM ET

(KYW) An apartment building fire in Norristown, Montgomery County is under control after raging out of control for several hours Thursday. More than a hundred apartments were damaged. Norristown Fire Marshal Charles Sweeney says there are no injuries. The fire appeared to begin inside a wall next to a utility room and appeared to spread inside the walls. Sweeney says that because the smoke was inside the walls, the building's smoke detectors did not set off an alarm until the fire was well under way. Sweeney says the 360-unit Korman Suites complex on Forest Avenue, which was built in the late 1960's, does not have sprinklers. Officials say over a hundred units in four buildings were either destroyed or damaged, displacing more than 200 people. Some of the residents are being put up in other Korman Suites units, others are being accommodated at a Hilton Hotel on DeKalb Pike. The Red Cross has been assisting victims. The fire, which started around 4:45 p.m. and quickly reached five alarms, burned several large holes in the roof of the building before the flames gathered together into one large fire.

Korman Suites Fire
A multi-alarm fire erupted at the Korman Suites Apartment Complex in Norrsitown, Montgomery County in buildings R and S at around 4:58 PM this aftrnoon.

Over 150 firefighters and emergency personnel from the Norristown and surrounding fire companies managed to extinguish the flames after three intense hours. Only 1 minor injury was reported, however the Red Cross has evacuated 80 families.They are asking for monetary contributions for this emergency situation. Please call 215 299-4000 The fire apparently started in the wall in the basement of one of the buildings and quickly spread through the aging structure. A lack of firewall protection helped to spread the flames quickly even as emergency vehicles arrived. Tune in to Action News for a LIVE report from the scene of the fire.

Apartment house burns in Norristown

The Associated Press Published March 29 2001
NORRISTOWN, PA -- An apartment building fire raged for several hours Thursday, damaging 90 apartments, before being brought under control.One man was taken to a hospital with respiratory problems and was listed in stable condition. But despite the lack of major injuries, some residents had terrifying experiences.Stanley Bracey, 35, was on his way home from his job driving a bus in Philadelphia when his wife, Robin, called him on his cell phone. He said she told him that flames started shooting down from the ceiling of their son's bedroom. She grabbed the children, 13-year-old Stanley Jr. and 2-year-old Adia, and fled the building as quickly as she could."We lost everything. Everything is totally destroyed," Bracey said from the Stewart Middle School across the street while his wife and children were at his sister-in-law's home. "We are just waiting to see what will happen and hope for the best. It's devastating."

The American Red Cross was serving pizza at the school and working with the Korman Suites apartment owners to find places to stay for the displaced residents. Red Cross spokesman Jeff Brodeur said the apartment managers will try to get as many people as possible into other apartments.