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Article published November 1, 2012
Fire hits apartment building in city
A fire caused by careless smoking on a couch late Thursday afternoon sent several tenants in two apartments running for safety from a three-story house in the 300 block of Mercer Street. Quick action by Butler firefighters saved the house but forced the tenants in all three apartments to find temporary shelter elsewhere. No one was hurt in the fire that started shortly after 5 p.m. in Joshua Norris’ third-floor apartment. “A friend visiting (Norris) was lying on the couch and smoking a cigarette when he realized he had caught the coach on fire,” said Butler Fire Chief Nick Ban this morning. The friend, Jahote Dorsey of Slippery Rock, admitted he was smoking and playing with a cigarette lighter at the time, Butler police said. The burning cigarette ignited the couch’s foam padding. After trying to put out the fire, Norris and Dorsey notified the four tenants on the second floor about the fire, and all the six occupants left. The first floor tenant was not home. Firefighters within minutes were on the top floor and used compressed air foam to snuff out the blaze. “The guys did a tremendous job,” Ban said of his crew. “They contained the fire to the piece of furniture but the heat from it melted everything in the apartment.” He estimated damage to the structure at $25,000 and another $10,000 to contents in Norris’ apartment. Jim Martin of Stoneboro, Mercer County, owns the house.