Senior citizens displaced from Abingdon apartments after minor fire

A senior citizen apartment complex in Abingdon was evacuated early Thursday evening after the building became filled with smoke from a minor electrical fire, Harford County fire officials said.

Spokesmen for the Harford County Fire and EMS Association and the Harford County Department of Emergency Services said no one was injured in the fire reported around 5 p.m.; however, some 80 residents were being placed on air conditioned buses at the scene until all the smoke could be cleared from the four-story building run by Catholic Charities in the 3000 block of St. Clair Lane.

In a subsequent decision, however, emergency services officials decided to find temporary shelter for all the residents overnight.

The fire originated in an electrical service room and forced the power to be shut off to the building, Richard Gardiner, spokesman for the Fire and EMS association said.

That meant no air conditioning and fire and emergency officials decided to evacuate most of the residents and place them in buses until the building is habitable.

"Some of the fire companies have 15-passenger buses, and other buses are being requested," Gardiner said by phone. Monitored Harford County emergency radio broadcasts indicated a request had been made to Howard County emergency services for a larger bus.

Gardiner said he did not know how long the evacuation might last. He posted on the association's Facebook page that a BGE crew was also dispatched to the scene.

Bob Thomas, spokesman for the Harford Department of Emergency Services, said the residents were initially placed on Harford Link and other buses; however, "out of concern for the residents well being," Thomas said it was decided to relocate them to temporary shelter overnight. As of 6:15 p.m. Thursday, no decision had been made as to where those displaced would spend the night.

Thomas said there were issues with getting the electrical service restored that required the overnight evacuation.

He said two people were taken to hospitals with respiratory problems and a third was treated at the scene for a similar problem but refused transport.

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