AIRPORT GARDENS — Early on the morning of Dec. 6, the Jarnigan Place apartment building, near McDonald’s in Airport Gardens, caught on fire. Within moments, flames roared along the entire structure. Although emergency crews responded to the scene quickly and were able to keep the fire from spreading further, their efforts still could not prevent four families living in Jarnigan Place from losing the possessions in their homes.
Thankfully, all of the damage was material. No one was hurt in the fire, which is a blessing considering the timing of the incident. Residents of the apartments, which included children, were sleeping when the blaze began.
Employees of the McDonald’s on Combs Rd. are receiving praise for their bravery and compassion during the emergency. Because the restaurant was open early for breakfast, McDonald’s employees were among the first to notice the fire. They ran to the apartment building and began knocking on doors and shouting for the people inside to wake up and exit their homes immediately. As the families rushed from the burning building, they were escorted into the McDonald’s, where they were served coffee and breakfast as first responders tried desperately to save as much as possible.
The evening after the fire, Sean Stamper, who is Area Supervisor for McDonald’s in Hazard, posted a picture on Facebook and acknowledged his staff’s courage and kindness. McDonald’s employees, Heather Garry, Greg Banks and Teresa Williams are shown standing side by side in the picture. Stamper said they went above and beyond with quick thinking and huge hearts to help the families who were in trouble. Restaurant manager, Paul Patula, was also recognized by Stamper for his work in making sure the families, as well as emergency crews, were safe and comfortable.
The tenants living inside the damaged apartments credit the employees of McDonald’s for saving their lives and the lives of their children. Although they lost nearly all their belongings, with Christmas only days away, they say they are thankful to still have the greatest gift of all; the gift of life.
The fire is believed to have started in an area of the building that was vacant. As of now, authorities have not determined the cause.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.