Fire Kills Man; Destroys Apartment Building

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 21, 2010 at 7:23 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

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September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 21, 2010 at 7:23 PM EDT

Fire ripped through a more than 100-year-old building on Lakeview Avenue near Sixth Street in Jamestown Tuesday evening and created plumes of smoke visible across much of the city. "We were driving from across town and saw smoke shooting up," says Sara Angeli, a Jamestown resident who stopped by to watch the fire.

"About 5:20 (p.m.) we got the call that there was a working fire here," said Harold Whitford, the owner of the building. Whitford then hurried over to the scene.

"The first thing we were concerned about was to make sure everyone was out," says Whitford who found residents of seven of the eight apartments accounted for, but no one had seen a man who lives on the second floor. Whitford alerted the fire chief who sent in a search team.

"That's when they discovered that he didn't make it out," says Whitford.

Police say an autopsy will help determine the man's exact cause of death. Investigators say the fire started in a first floor kitchen and quickly spread. "With the age of the building that's the way they were built, no fire stops, stuff like that," explains Whitford.

The Red Cross is assisting the residents left homeless. Whitford says he'll help them find apartments in other properties he owns, and in addition to the human tragedy the building is a total loss. "The third floor apartment had just all new windows," says Whitford, "Walls, ceiling, stuff like that, new heating system up there. It's just all gone."

Investigators are not yet releasing the name of the man who died.