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Man still critical after apartment fire at St. Germain Manor Saturday

February 17, 2014

WOONSOCKET - A man in his early 50s remained in critical condition Monday, two days after a fire broke out in his apartment on the seventh floor of St. Germain Manor, a public high rise.
Woonsocket Fire Chief Tim Walsh said the victim had burns over 75 percent of his body and was initially taken to Landmark Medical Center before being transferred to the Trauma Center at Rhode Island Hospital.
Local authorities declined to release the identity of the victim, but The Call confirmed through hospital and other sources that he was Jeffrey S. Reyor.
Walsh said the fire was confined to the victim's apartment and the cause remains under investigation by the Woonsocket Police Department, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Deputy Asst. State Fire Marshal Lt. Dave Degrange of the the WFD.
The WFD dispatched a rescue squad and one engine to St. Germain Manor after receiving a 911 call reporting that a person was screaming inside his apartment at 8:58 p.m. Saturday.
"Within a minute dispatch was notified of a fire alarm and a full complement of equipment was sent to that location for a possible fire," said Walsh.
Smoke was pouring from the victim's apartment and flames were still visible inside, said Walsh.
Crew members of Engine 3, under the command of Lt. Mike Lataille, pulled the victim from the apartment and promptly began administering medical aid.
An aerial truck was dispatched to the fire, but at seven stories, the apartment was still too far away to make lugging a hose up the ladder practical, said Walsh.
Much of the water dumped on the fire was forced up a "hard line" that's part of the internal plumbing and fire-suppression system in the publicly-owned apartment complex for seniors and the disabled. An auxiliary pump in the basement of the facility pushed the water up the lines.
"Everything worked fine," said Walsh. "The firefighters did a great job and the sprinkler system in the high rise kept the fire in one place."
St. Germain Manor, located at 429 East School St., is one of four high rises for senior citizens and disabled people owned and operated by the Woonsocket Housing Authority. Three floors of St. Germain Manor were recently converted into an assisted living center, but they're all below the seventh.
Robert T. Kulik, the executive director of the housing authority, declined to identify the victim. He said public safety authorities would make the determination on when it is appropriate to release his name.
But Kulik said the victim's apartment was equipped with "a hospital type bed" on which he normally slept. He said he did not know whether the victim was capable of walking without the aid of a wheelchair or walker.
Kulik said he got a look at the victim's apartment after the fire and what stood out to him was that the worst fire damage involved the victim's bed.
"The bed is completely burnt," he said. "It's burnt down to where it looks like it's charcoal."
Like Walsh, Kulik had high praise for the sprinkler system in the 10-story high rise. He said he believes he sprinkler system may have actually put the fire out before firefighters arrived.
Contrary to previous reports, Kulik said no tenants of the high rise were evacuated outdoors. A number were ordered to leave their apartments and go to the community room on the ground floor, but none actually left the building.
Roughly 145 apartments are located in St. Germain Manor, including 50 assisted living units on the second, third and fourth floors.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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