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Sheriff Opens Closed Jail to House 19 Displaced by Fire

Sheriff Opens Closed Jail to House 19 Displaced by Fire

A fire at Transitional Living building, 2052 Princeton Road, in Hamilton has caused about $35,000 worth of damage to the building and $15,000 in property damage. Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced that he is opening the recently closed Resol

The Oxford Press via YellowBrix

August 03, 2010

HAMILTON — Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones opened a wing of the recently closed Resolutions Jail facility to house 19 residents of a Hamilton group home displaced by a fire Monday morning, Aug. 2.

An exterior light may have caused the fire in which a firefighter was injured.

Smoke and flames could be seen coming out the top of the Transitional Living building, 2052 Princeton Road, at about 4 a.m., according to fire officials.

A resident called in the fire, which may have started from an exterior porch light on the front side of one of the units, said Hamilton Deputy Fire Chief Larry Gassert.

By the time Hamilton fire crews arrived on scene, the about 12 residents had already safely evacuated. Hanover Twp. fire crews were dispatched to the scene to fill air bottles, Gassert said.

Hamilton Fire Lt. Joe Stamper suffered minor injuries while combatting the blaze. Gassert said an air back-draft in the attic of one of the units resulted in an explosion, and injured Stamper. He was transported to The Fort Hamilton Hospital and later released.

Crews cleared the scene by 7:30 a.m., according to fire officials.

The fire is still under investigation but is not believed to be intentional.

“We have pretty much ruled out arson or any other personal involvement,” Gassert said. “No one there started the fire.”

The blaze caused about $35,000 worth of damage to the building and $15,000 in property damage, according to Fire Chief Joseph P. Schutte.

Gassert said up to three apartments may be uninhabitable. The fire was contained to the first floor section. Residents of the undamaged units were allowed back into the building.

Since the fire, Transitional Living administrators have been busy serving those clients unaffected by the fire, said Kathy Becker, CEO of Transitional Living.

Becker said community outreach for the displaced residents is tremendous.

Resolutions, the 400-bed minimum security jail, on Second Street in Hamilton, has sat mostly unused since it closed more than a year ago reportedly to save money. It has been occasionally used since as a dorm-like emergency heat shelter or backup to the Court Street Jail since.

“We got a notice today that the fire had displaced people that were living out there and they had nowhere to go so I sent a message making the suggestion,” Jones said.

Jones said he brought prisoners over Monday morning to clean up the jail for his guests, who he expects to stay for more than a week.

Transitional Living and other agencies will handle the staffing, so all it will cost the county is a slight increase in utilities.

“This is an emergency situation and they have to have somewhere to live, and we’re pretty fortunate to be sitting on an empty building,” he said. “This is what you’re supposed to do.”

Those from the Butler County Red Cross, Hamilton and Fairfield Police and Fire Departments and surrounding communities are also helping supply residents with food, clothes and hygiene items.

“I can say with good faith Butler County is a community with caring, kind individuals who have jumped forward to help the people we serve,” Becker said.