Woman killed in Harrodsburg fire

September 12, 2003|GARY MOYERS

HARRODSBURG - A woman confined to a wheelchair died Thursday night after a fast-moving blaze swept through the interior of her apartment.

Wanda Coleman, 48, was pronounced dead at James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital after being pulled from the burning apartment at 830 North College St. Mercer County Coroner David "Sonny" Ransdell said she died of smoke inhalation.

Assistant Fire Chief Monty Trower said the apartment was occupied by two people. David Pemberto, 34, escaped the blaze uninjured, he said, but Coleman was trapped inside and could not escape.

The female victim was an amputee, and Chief Marshall Hockersmith said firefighters Logan Steele and Michael Griffieth found her unconscious inside the apartment. The two carried her out of the building and began CPR until Mercer EMS transported her to the hospital, where she died.


Trower said it's too early to determine how the fire started.

"We don't have a clue how it started yet; it's too early to tell," he said. "We're not even completely sure where it started. We have a pretty good idea, but we're waiting for the state fire marshal to get here and examine the scene."

The fire marshal is required by law to examine all fire scenes involving a fatality, Trower said, and was expected to arrive at Berkshire Apartments this morning. Hockersmith, however, said there were no indications at the scene that the cause was anything other than accidental.

Ransdell issued a ruling of accidental death this morning.

The apartment is located on the first floor of a building in the rear of the complex. All five rooms of the apartment were severely burned, and many pieces of furniture were reduced to ashes. A second-floor apartment above it also suffered damage, Hockersmith said, but it was minor.

"Once it got started, it burned fast," said Hockersmith. "Everything inside was pretty much destroyed."

Hockersmith said the department responded at 10:41 p.m. with 17 men plus units from the Harrodsburg Police Department and Mercer EMS.

"The last truck pulled out of there at 11:17 p.m., so we were on site with the full crew for about 30 minutes or so," he said. Additional personnel stayed to examine nearby apartments for damage and watch for smoldering spots. No firefighters were injured.

The apartments are owned by Winterwood, Inc., and field supervisor Fred Worshaw said the company would begin cleanup work at the site as soon as it is given approval by investigators. The manager of the apartment complex could not be reached for comment this morning.

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