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AUBURN — Residents fled an apartment building that caught fire in Auburn Thursday morning. 

The fire, at 5 Washington St., was reported to be burning at about 8:30 a.m. Doug Bedford, who lives in the building, said that he was in bed when someone he doesn't know — he believes it was a neighbor from a nearby building — came to his door and told him the building was on fire. Bedford said he grabbed his 2-year-old twins, Kegan and Bryce Bedford, but didn't manage to get their shoes on before fleeing. 

"It's terrifying being told your house is on fire," Doug said with a slight, tired laugh.

The twins' mother, Brittney Baran, said she was at work at Unity House of Cayuga County on Market Street at the time of the fire and noticed the smoke immediately once she went outside. She said that because Unity House is near the main city fire station, she didn't think much of the sirens becaue she is so used to hearing alarms. Baran said she was glad the twins seemed relaxed afterward, as they squatted calmly on grass drawing into a notepad.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Grady said that the fire was extinguished a couple hours after it began. One firefighter received a "joint injury," Grady said, and was treated at Auburn Community Hospital and released. Every tenant from the six-unit apartment building was accounted for.

The fire was still under investigation Thursday evening and firefighters were on hand to ensure the blaze stayed extinguished. Grady believed the building is salvageable despite the attic sustaining heavy fire damage and the second floor taking water damage. The first floor received limited damage, Grady said.

Grady expected that residents would be able to return to their homes once "pretty substantial repairs" are made. The American Red Cross was working with the tenants displaced by the fire.

Around 9 a.m., steady streams of smoke were billowing from the top of the building. Three fire trucks were at the scene, with two TLC ambulances nearby. Firefighters could be seen going in through the back of the building. Water burst from the top of the building a couple times. Other firefighters who came out of the building sat on large mats in front of the building guzzling water bottles. 

According to Cayuga County real property records, the 5 Washington St. building is owned by Westcott A. Jones of Medicine Lake, Minnesota. The 5,300-square-foot building and land are assessed at $150,000.

The building used to be known as Giovanetti Nursing Home. It was converted to apartments in the mid-1970s.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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