Senior housing fire forces evacuations, brings water damage


By Chris Berendt - [email protected]



Sampson Square Apartments on College Street was the site of a cooking fire in one of the units Tuesday.


A cooking fire at a senior housing development in Clinton was able to be quickly extinguished thanks to a sprinkler system, but it did not come without significant water damage, evacuations and one woman transported for treatment.

At about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, the Clinton Fire Department along with departments from Halls, Taylors Bridge, Herring and Salemburg, with ladder truck in tow, responded to a commercial structure fire alarm at Sampson Square Apartments on College Street.

Once on scene, Clinton Fire Chief Scott Phillips said he could not see anything. He made contact briefly with a woman who was the sole resident in the second-floor apartment at the time. She said she was cooking when the fire occurred.

“The sprinkler system activated and extinguished the fire,” said Phillips. “There was not much in the way of fire damage, but there was water damage and it was leaking downstairs. Once we got there and figured out what was going on, we were able to turn some of the (fire units) around.”

However, Phillips and other fire officials ensured all residents were accounted for using a log provided by the apartment manager.

“We made sure everyone was safe and everyone was evacuated to a centralized location,” said Phillips, who noted the female resident of the apartment requested to be transported by EMS. “I’m not sure if she had smoke inhalation. She was talking and it appeared her injuries were non-life-threatening.”

A two-story, 40-unit senior housing development constructed and opened in 2010, Sampson Square is located at 804 College St. It is one of many developments managed by United Property Management (UPM) toward providing residents age 55 and older an affordable housing option. The company oversees 35 communities throughout the state of North Carolina, offering nearly 2,000 rental units across the state.

Phillips said there were about 20 people outside once the building was evacuated, but the fire chief noted that others could have also been “out” away from the Sampson Square campus as it was the middle of the afternoon.

A UPM employee at Sampson Square on Wednesday confirmed that there was no smoke or fire damage in the building, but that the water damage was extensive. He called the incident a “grease fire” and noted that Keshonda Ruffin, regional manager who oversees general management of UPM properties across the state, was expected to further assess the damage at the housing complex later in the day.

A message left for Ruffin was not immediately returned. Phillips said the damage was almost entirely water inflicted, and encompassed both floors.

“The damage was very minimal in terms of fire,” the chief noted. “They did have a lot of water flow. The sprinkler system doused everything pretty good. We were ultimately able to get that contained.”

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Sampson Square Apartments on College Street was the site of a cooking fire in one of the units Tuesday.
http://clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/web1_Square-fire.jpgSampson Square Apartments on College Street was the site of a cooking fire in one of the units Tuesday.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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