WELLSVILLE – A Wellsville apartment fire forced renters to evacuate 6:00 a.m. Sunday after the chimney to a pellet stove started smoldering.All renters were safely evacuated from the apartments attached to the White Buffalo outdoor goods store at 39 East Main Street. However, as of 7:00 a.m., the three cats of a renter who was at work remained trapped in the locked apartment, according to tenet Billy Oberding.”It started in my neighbor Bryce’s apartment,” Oberding said. “I woke up smelling smoke and I immediately went down and knocked on my neighbor’s door and he said the stove is burning and the insulation is on fire, so we got our pets out and my daughter.”The other neighbor was not home yet, as he was at work as a nurse in Logan. His three cats were still inside.”I don’t have a key to the apartment, but I thought about breaking the door down to get them out,” Oberding said. Emergency responders were working to find the starting place of the fire according to Mendon fire chief, Ray Olsen. “At this point it is mostly smoke from a smoldering multi-apartment dwelling fire, on the first and second floors,” Olsen said. “We don’t know exactly where the fire is. We are coming at it from the top and bottom; we have a crew in the basement and a crew on the roof.”Fifteen emergency vehicles, including two hook ladder trucks, responded to the fire from the Mendon, Logan and Wellsville. Karen Johnson, EMS responder, said her parents live next door to the White Buffalo store, and she couldn’t believe they slept through the noise. Johnson’s grandfather used to own the White Buffalo, which she said was affected by the smoke.The extent of damage is unknown at this point, and the renters do not know if they will be covered by the landlord’s insurance. Oberding said he pays $15 extra a month for renter’s insurance, but Bryce does not have renter’s insurance.The renters said they were not sure where they would stay while the damage was assessed and remedied. “I was wondering why I paid that $15 extra a month, but now I am glad I did,” Oberding said.
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