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Second-floor window was only option for 70-year-old man to flee Clearwater fire

CLEARWATER — A second-floor window was Cleveland Malcolm's only option early Sunday.

About 4:30 a.m., Malcolm, 70, opened his bedroom door to find his living room on fire.

He quickly closed the door at his apartment at 2029 Alpine Road. But then he opened it again to try to make an escape, only to realize he couldn't get through the fire because of its heat.

So he said he took his next and only option — the window.

Malcolm said he knocked out the window and hung down from the sill before dropping to the ground. Neighbors said they grabbed his feet and helped him as he fell.

Malcolm had a slight bruise on his right knee from when he climbed out the window.

He was checked out by firefighters and found to have no serious injuries. He declined further treatment. No one else was in the apartment at the time.

Clearwater Fire Rescue said it got a call at 4:48 a.m. about the fire at the Alpine Court Apartments.

Firefighters got the blaze under control in about 15 minutes and contained the fire to one apartment, public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said, but other units were also damaged by smoke and water.

Fire officials on the scene put up an arson poster seeking information and offering a reward. But the cause is still under investigation, Watts said.

Janet McGuire, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said the Red Cross is providing emergency housing, food and clothing to Malcolm, another adult and four children. They lived in the destroyed apartment, she said.

Cleveland Malcolm, 70, had no chance to reach the door of his second-story apartment, which he discovered was on fire about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

JOSEPH GARNETT JR. | Times

Cleveland Malcolm, 70, had no chance to reach the door of his second-story apartment, which he discovered was on fire about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

Second-floor window was only option for 70-year-old man to flee Clearwater fire 08/15/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 15, 2010 11:27pm]
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