Firefighters battling fire on 15th Ave in Birmingham - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Woman, 58, killed in early-morning fire on 15th Ave (Update)

Posted: Updated:

Update #2:

The victim of a fatal apartment fire in southside Birmingham early Wednesday morning has been identified as 58-year-old Kathy Whisenthunt.

Firefighters didn't find the victim until after the fire was extinguished.

Whisenhunt, a grandmother of four, was found on the second floor of the apartment house that burned.

Her family confirmed her identification.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but investigators don't believe a space heater was to blame.

Three blocks around the burning structures were closed.  The neighborhood is tightly compacted and there was risk of the fire spreading even further.  Two buildings were involved in the fire:  a house and an apartment building, undergoing renovations. 

"The house on the scene was so well involved that we basically had to go into a defensive mode, and try to protect these two exposures, one exposure was already engulfed also, so it was very hectic at that moment," says Birmingham Fire & Rescue battalion chief C.W. Mardis.

At this point, there's no word on the cause of the fire.  The battalion chief says they do not believe a space heater was involved.

Emergency responders faced all sorts of issues while dealing with the fire.  Water-soaked power lines snapped in the area.  The water from the hoses flowed through the street.  It almost immediately turned to ice.  Several responders fell in the icy roads, but no injuries have been reported.

The icy roads also caused some issues for crews actually getting to the scene.  Fire officials report one engine had difficulty getting up to the neighborhood.  Also, a man living next door to the burned house says there was only one entrance to get to the fire.  Two different accidents had the other areas blocked, because they have not been cleared.

 

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