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Crews battle fire at Youngstown apartment, near station that city is considering closing

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The fire spread to the house behind it, which briefly caught fire

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The once-stately Youngstown apartment building has been vacant since someone beat a man to death inside in 2007 and then damaged the building in a fire to hide evidence of the crime.

It took 12 years, but the building at 208 Broadway Ave. ended up coming down Tuesday. It was destroyed in a massive blaze that also damaged two other homes beside it.

The building is just over a block from Station 7, which city firefighters were told last week would be closing because of the city’s budget woes.

Extra manpower had to be called in to battle the flames, which broke out about 11:10 a.m., and to keep the other two homes from catching fire. When it was all done, every truck in the city but one was called to battle the fire.

If there had been another call, the city would have needed to rely on mutual aid to fight that fire.

At 210 Broadway Ave., Aaron Fortune said he was asleep when he heard someone tell him to wake up. He could see heavy smoke, and he ran outside.

Fortune said there are several homeless people who come in and out of the building. City fire investigator Capt. Kurt Wright said there were several mattresses inside the home.

Abed Judeh said he was just pulling into the drive at 210 Broadway Ave. when he saw the flames. Judeh said he ran over to the building because there have been people inside before to try and warn them, but the flames suddenly flared up and got too intense.

Judeh said he then tried to sound the alarm in the house he was visiting.

“I ran into our house and woke everybody up,” Judeh said.

Firefighters poured large amounts of water on both houses, but the home at 206 Broadway Ave. caught fire in the roof and heavy smoke began to come out. Firefighters had to climb up on the roof and punch holes in the roof to get at the fire.

That home is used for storage.

Charlie Smith, a battalion chief and head of Youngstown Professional Firefighters Local 312, said that Engine 7 was the first engine on the scene and was able to get to the fire quickly.

Smith said Engine 7 arrived before the trucks from Station 1 downtown, where Engine 7 is slated to be stationed if the station at Madison Avenue and Elm Street is closed.

Smith said the response shows how important response times are. He said having Engine 7 right there was crucial to making sure that firefighters were able to save the adjoining buildings, especially on a day like Tuesday where winds made things difficult for firefighters.

“Because it [fire] took off so fast, it just shows the importance of response times,” Smith said.

The apartment building, which is owned by the city, had been vacant since a July 2007 homicide and fire. Stanley Makarski, 47, was beaten to death then set on fire.

A man was arrested and convicted of Makarski’s death.

The city decided to start demolishing the building immediately. An excavator was called in from Bryson Street, where city crews are in preliminary stages of tearing down a large apartment building there.

There were no injuries. An investigation is underway to determine the cause.

Besides closing the station, the city also told the firefighters union they were considering eliminating three battalion chiefs through attrition. There are always two battalion chiefs on duty, and they respond to all fires, with the first chief on the scene taking the role of incident commander and the second chief looking for any safety issues.

Tuesday’s fire was so massive that the chiefs were stationed in the front and back of the home to keep tabs on the fire and also to call in extra manpower.

Last year, Station 7 handled 1,027 calls, according to the fire department. Station 7 recorded 836 calls so far this year.

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