Suspicious fire at Hickory Ridge Apts started in bedroom closet

CENTRALIA — City firefighters responded around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to a fire at Hickory Ridge Apartments on MLK Drive, that resulted in numerous complex residents being evacuated, but only one being displaced.

According to Capt. Gene Kracht, the occupant of unit #39 in building 400, Myleika Whitelow came home at lunch and found her apartment full of smoke. She called 911 and when Centralia police arrived on scene they reported smoke coming from the back of the building. Occupants were evacuated and ESDA responded with four units to block traffic.

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the fire and the construction of the building contained the fire to the one unit. All occupants were ultimately allowed to return home, with the exception of Whitelow, who arranged for a place to stay overnight. Red Cross will be assisting her as needed.

Kracht says the fire originated in a bedroom closet of Whitelow’s apartment, which suffered from high heat and heavy smoke. The fire is being called suspicious and the Fire Marshal was called to the scene.

Both shifts for the Centralia Fire Department were called in because of the high heat. Firefighters were on scene for about an hour.