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Fire Erupts At Housing Complex, Occupants Evacuated

May 7, 1987

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A smoky fire in a downtown high-rise apartment building for the elderly killed a 61-year-old man Wednesday night and hospitalized at least 10 other residents, authorities said.

The dead man was identified as Robert Cornwell, who apparently fell asleep on a couch while smoking. The fire was confined to his fifth-floor apartment in the 10-story Taylor Terrace complex, said Fire Chief Don Werner.

About 50 residents were evacuated from the high-rise, and 10 of them, ranging in age from 61 to 98, were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries, hospital officials said.

The fire, reported at 8:22 p.m., was contained at 9:34 p.m., said fire Lt. Tim Sauer. The blaze gutted Cornwell’s apartment and inflicted smoke damage elsewhere in the building. Fire officials estimated damage at $90,000.

The complex, operated by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, provides housing for low-income elderly people and the handicapped.

Dennis Guest, director of the housing authority, said 12 evacuees could not return to their apartments Wednesday night, but would stay with relatives or at an emergency shelter set up at a city recreation center.

The fire department’s arson squad and the police department’s homicide division were called to the housing complex. Officials said investigation by both offices is routine in a fire fatality.

Update hourly