State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Three Alarm Blaze Rips Through Apartment Building, At Least Two People Rescued by Firefighters

by and on July 04, 2013 11:15 PM

The Fourth of July takes a disastrous turn for residents at a State College apartment complex Thursday night. Flames swept through a building at Waupelani Heights, damaging 19 nine units.

Firefighters say at least two residents were trapped by the fire and had to be rescued from an apartment balcony.

Betul Akkopru, a graduate student at Penn State, lived in the apartment across the hall from where the fire began. 

"My furniture and all of my school supplies are destroyed," she says as her voice quivered while watching from across the street. "I can't believe it. It's horrible." 

Shaker Abdullhab, another building resident, was also in his apartment at the time of the fire. 

"I could smell the smoke from inside. As soon as I got out, I looked to the right side of the building and flames were going through the roof," he says.

Alpha Fire Company chief Jeff Martin described the building as a "total loss."

Members of the Alpha Fire Company and the Undine Fire Company raced to the scene shortly after the first alarm was sent out at about 8:15 p.m. A large crowd stood outside watching flames that blackened the structure. The fire quickly went to three alarms.

There are no reports of injuries to residents. According to Martin no firefighters were hurt

Martin confirmed that all 19 units were occupied. It's unclear how many residents were in the building when the fire began. It will take time to account for all of them. Some may be out of town because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Shaken residents were taken to the nearby South Hills Business School. Red Cross emergency crews were there, working out emergency shelter plans. State College Police Chief Tom King says displaced residents will be given temporary housing at Penn State and at a local hotel.

One woman, who asked to have her name withheld, stood in a field watching firefighters hose down hot spots. She didn't know if her basement apartment was destroyed or not.

There is no word yet on how the fire started. Firefighters were still on scene at 12:30 a.m and a portion of Waupelani Drive was still closed. 

Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.

Drew Balis is a Penn State graduate, freelance reporter and frequent contributor to
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