VENTNOR – Fire destroyed a fifth-floor apartment in Shalom House Friday, Oct. 14 and caused the evacuation of residents, many of whom were in wheelchairs or on oxygen, Fire Chief John Hazlett said in a statement released Tuesday, Oct. 18.

No one was injured, but the apartment, No. 529, was rendered uninhabitable, and the occupant was displaced and is staying with relatives, according to reports. Hazlett said the residence was a total loss, with damage estimated at $50,000. 

He said the call reporting smoke on the top floor of the five-story complex at 7201 Marshall Ave. came in to the Fire Department at 11:10 a.m.

Capt. James Culbertson conducted the investigation and determined that it was an accidental electrical fire that started in the bedroom.

Platoon 1 responded under the direction of Capt. Kyle Smith and Lt. Rick Lento. Hazlett said he called for additional manpower due to the labor-intensive operation of fighting the fire and removing the occupants.

There were 17 firefighters on the scene, and Ventnor police assisted by accounting for the occupants and securing the scene. Margate Fire Department sent and engine to assist with water supply.

Firefighters contained the fire to the unit and extinguished it within 20 minutes, Hazlett said. There was some smoke damage in the hallways of the fifth floor. 

Crews remained on the scene until 2 p.m. to help residents get back to their apartments. A few of the residents were evaluated medically, but no injuries were reported.

Hazlett said the Ventnor Fire Department routinely provides residents with fire safety training.

“I would like to commend the occupant who, after smelling smoke and realizing there was a fire in the bedroom, was able to shut the doors in the unit, which helped prevent the fire from spreading to the hall and other units,” Hazlett said.

“As she was exiting, she pulled the alarm in the hall, which alerted us before the building’s alarm system would have activated. She obviously paid attention to the presentation that was delivered, and her actions prevented this situation from being worse.”