Firefighters honored for saving 3 from summer fire

Published 10:13 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

A pair of Winchester firefighters earned commendations Tuesday for their efforts to save three people from an apartment fire last summer.

On the evening of June 1, 2017, Winchester firefighters responded to a fire in a three-story apartment building on Main Street in downtown Winchester. The fire was already burning heavily on the second floor with several people trapped on the third floor.

In his recommendation letter, Winchester Fire-EMS Battalion Chief Scotty Bell said they set up the department’s ladder truck in “record time,” and Lt. Nick Riggs and firefighter Paul Richardson rode the ladder as they put on their air packs and masks.

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“Three victims were brought to safety using the platform of Truck 3 in horrible and dangerous conditions,” Bell wrote. “On one attempt, firefighter Richardson put himself in grave danger as he reached in to assist and pull out the third victim, whom had gotten overcome with smoke.

“Lt. Riggs at that time assisted firefighter Richardson by holding on to his air pack and preventing him from falling. the ladder was lowered to safety and the victims escaped with little injury.”

Bell said the commendation is designed for those “who distinguish themselves with heroism and outstanding achievement” and “stand out on special fire ground operations that require life-saving activity.”

Firefighters spent about two hours on the scene of the fire that night. One of the people living in the building at 40 N. Main St., Billy Joe Ross, was later charged with first-degree arson for allegedly setting the fire. Ross is awaiting trial in Clark Circuit Court.

Later in the meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance to issue $15.5 million in bonds to help fund a new water treatment plant.

The bond issue will partially fund the construction of the water plant and two other upcoming projects for Winchester Municipal Utilities. The water plant, which was bid at $19.98 million, will take two to three years to complete with a combination of bond revenue, cash and a loan, according to WMU.

The other projects are part of the EPA’s consent decree with the city and include improvements at Hampton Manor, East Interceptor and the Strode’s Creek plant.

The bonds could be sold later this month.

In other action, the commissioners:

— voted to rescind the penalty for a late payroll tax payment by IBM.

— approved a grant application for Winchester Fire-EMS.

— approved an annual letter of commitment for the Kentucky Main Street program.

— approved a contract with Lagco Excavation for a storm sewer repair on Flanagan Street for a maximum of $6,000.

— accepted the retirement of Eddie Barnes from Winchester Fire-EMS.

— promoted Michelle Lucas from account clerk to deputy city treasurer.

— approved the hiring of James F. Parks as a maintenance worker at Winchester Public Works.

— accepted Fairholme Way, Citation Court, Sir Barton Lane and two alleys as city streets.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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