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Geronimo Fire Destroys At Least One Apartment

GERONIMO Okla_ An innocent mistake while moving into an apartment in Geronimo sparks a dangerous kitchen fire, and leads to the evacuation of the building.

The fire started around 12:30 pm Tuesday, on a ground floor unit in the corner of the building.

Lanetta Martin said she was helping her disabled friend move into the only handicapped-accessible apartment in the building. She said she put some cardboard boxes on the stove. She said she thought the stove was off. The boxes ignited and the flames quickly spread out of control.

The flames and smoke destroyed the kitchen and caused extensive damage to the living room. Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire, and most of the renter's belongings had not been moved in. They are still in her current apartment a few doors down. Martin said she considers this fire a close call in more ways than one.

She said she had no idea that she had accidentally turned the stove on when she put the boxes on top of it. So, when she and her friend smelled smoke, she wasn't immediately worried.

"I said lets unplug everything in this room because it might be overloaded," Martin said. "She has lots of things that need to be plugged up. So, we did that then the fire alarm went off."

She said she followed the smell into the kitchen, noticed the flames, and grabbed a fire extinguisher. She said the flames would not die down.

"I sprayed it, and the fire went out," Martin said. "A few minutes later, the fire came back on. By the third time I put it out, I realized the stove. It's over at the end by the wall. That's when I told her to call the fire department."

Firefighters arrived and managed to put the flames out in about five minutes, but the flames had already burned through the kitchen walls and exposed some electrical wiring. Fire crews had to shut down power to the complex. They had the building evacuated for about an hour. They said fortunately, the fire had not spread to other units, which is a common occurrence in apartment fires.

"Being on a lower apartment, the fire can spread to the upstairs unit," Geronimo Volunteer Firefighter Gabriel Maldonado said. "A lot of the modern apartment complexes have fire walls built between apartment units to keep spread from going to the apartment's next to it."

Martin said she feels awful about causing today's fire, especially after all her friend went through to move.

"I was just thinking about all of her stuff," Martin said. "I just thought about all of this work we have been doing. Now, it is going up in flames or smoke or whatever."

She said she's learned a valuable lesson.

"Don't put anything on a stove."

Martin said she's glad she had not moved her friend's cleaning supplies into the cabinets above the stove. She said the chemicals could have caused an explosion. She said her friend will stay in her current apartment, which is not handicapped accessible.

The American Red Cross is helping out the victim with whatever she needs through this difficult time. 

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