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Failed Inspection Leads To Evacuation Of Washington County Apartment Complex

UPDATE: Residents returned to the building on Thursday after the elevator passed inspection.

SOUTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- Residents at a Washington County apartment complex that caught fire last week were evacuated Wednesday after authorities say a smoke detector connected to the sixth-floor elevators failed inspection.

Arthur Keys, the president of the board of directors at the Thomas Campbell Apartment Complex, said an elevator inspection was done Wednesday and a smoke detector was unresponsive. He said in an emergency situation, the elevators would still operate rather than go to the first floor, which is unsafe for residents.

Keys said they decided it was the best decision to evacuate residents and transport them to the Suburban Extended Stay in Washington County, a few miles down the road.

Food and transportation were provided for residents. Keys said it took about an hour and a half to evacuate everyone from inside.

Thomas Campbell Apartment Complex
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Residents in 56 units were displaced from the Dec. 23 fire and a 78-year-old resident died three days later.

Keys said 124 residents live in the building. He said those on the first floor were able to stay in their units since they do not need to use the elevator.

KDKA got an exclusive look inside where the fire started on the sixth floor. Walls and doors were covered in black soot, and the smell of smoke still lingered.

Watch as KDKA's Chris Hoffman reports:

A manager said water damage is mostly impacting apartments on the first through fourth floors. The fifth, sixth and seventh floors have smoke damage. Two apartments were completely destroyed.

Keys said restoration efforts started the same day once the fire was extinguished.

Repairs to the elevators were underway Wednesday evening. Keys said a follow-up inspection is scheduled for Thursday. He expects to pass inspection and bring residents back.

There's no timeline on how long it could take before all the damaged rooms are repaired from the fire.

Contributions can be sent to:
Thomas Campbell Activity Fund
0/0 Thomas Campbell Apartments
850 Beech St
Washington, PA 15301

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