Firefighters battled a 3-alarm fire on Tuesday morning. The fire at 23 West Court St. sent smoke drifting over the West End of downtown around 7 a.m. Black smoke was coming from the upper floors of the four-story building, which is mostly vacant except for a clothing store on the first floor.
Tina Assell described what she saw during her commute to work.
“I heard a loud boom, and I didn’t think much of it because you hear a lot of booms downtown. But then I came down Walnut Street and I saw a lot of smoke coming out of the top, ” Assell said.
The fire was mostly under control by shortly after 7:30 a.m., but a third alarm was called in around 7:45 a.m. for additional manpower.
Firefighters rescued one person from the building. There were no reports of injuries.
Fire Chief Richard Braun called the fire very suspicious, noting that there were two people inside a building that is supposed to be vacant.
Antonio Mathes, 35, was charged with two counts of aggravated arson.
Neighbors told WLWT News 5's Kristy Davis that they have complained about squatters in the building previously.
“Over the weekend in my communication with the police Lt. I made the point that I was concerned that there would be a fire,” neighbor who lives in the adjacent building, Rick Deiringer said.
Mathes was picked up in Campbell County. He will be extradited back to Hamilton County to face charges.
Written and photos by WLWT