Marietta Fire Department Assistant Chief Kelly Caldwell said his department received a call about a fire in the Ashley Mill apartment complex at 1250 Powder Springs St. just after 7:45 a.m. Friday. He said teams of investigators were on site through the day trying to determine the cause.
This is the third fire local fire departments have responded to at a Marietta apartment complex in the last six weeks. The other two were along Franklin Road.
Caldwell said when they arrived on scene Friday morning, flames were shooting through the roof of the building, and Caldwell said all 24 units in the building were damaged — 12 by fire and the other 12 by smoke and water damage.
“The good part is that most of them are still standing and salvageable,” he said, approximately two hours after the fire started, when firefighters got the blaze under control.
One injury was reported and a man, whose name has not been released, was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta after complaining of respiratory problems.
“We got here, we encountered a gentleman trying to get out of the building and he was hanging from the third-story window trying to get out,” Caldwell said. “Firefighters went in, pulled him back into the window and helped him escape down an interior stairwell.”
Two others reported minor injuries but they weren’t taken to the hospital, Caldwell said he hadn’t received reports of any of the 60 firefighters on scene getting hurt.
Fourteen fire trucks were working the fire in addition to the firefighters and two ladder trucks that were anchored outside the building spraying thousands of gallons of water over the entire unit.
There was also assistance from Cobb County Fire.
A fire prevention team and the American Red Cross were called in to help with residents who won’t be able to return to their homes for some time, Caldwell said.
Ruben Brown with the Red Cross said Friday they helped 63 residents in the complex, including 20 children, which is considered a “big disaster” response for his organization.
“We respond to an average of three-to-four fires every day but this number of people ranks up there as one of the largest number of people we’ve helped,” he said.
They were provided medication, food and a place to stay until they can find a more permanent residence.
Anyone interested in helping or making a donation is asked to visit atlantaredcross.org online or call (404) 876-3302.
Residents lose their homes, possessions
Frederick Jackson, 49, said the fire started in his one-bedroom apartment on the bottom floor of Building 12 sometime between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m., and he lost everything.
“I was using the bathroom and when I came out, I saw a lot of light,” Jackson said, referring to fire. “It was in the bedroom. I’m not sure where it came from but I grabbed my wallet, keys and phone on the bed and got out of there.”
Jackson, who moved into the complex three years ago, lives in the unit with his son. His son was at work when the fire broke out.
After grabbing a few belongings, Jackson ran out his front door and pulled the fire alarm in an attempt to get everyone out of the building.
His hand was burned a little while he tried to salvage his phone, keys and wallet, but he didn’t ask to be treated.
He has renters insurance and any damage would be covered by his carrier.
Diane Tucker, who lives in the same building with her boyfriend, son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and mother, wasn’t as fortunate. She does not have insurance. They moved into Ashley Mill a little over two years ago.
She lives in a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment that was one of 12 units that had severe water and some fire damage.
“It got our unit,” Tucker said. “The back side of my mama’s bedroom is damaged.”
They were alerted to the fire by neighbors who came banging on their doors.
Tucker said she doesn’t believe her apartment is covered by insurance because in the last two weeks the management of the property has changed and it was her understanding that the insurance was dropped. She was supposed to apply for new insurance by Aug. 30.
“I can’t afford to buy any more insurance,” she said.
Tony Wilbert, spokesman for apartment complex owner Cortland Properties, said Ashley Mill management is working with residents to make sure everyone affected by Friday morning’s fire has a place to stay on an immediate and long-term basis.
“The American Red Cross is on site assisting residents and providing necessities,” he said. “Red Cross officials have offered rooms at local hotels for affected residents.”
He said the complex management should be able to place all residents by Monday and that they have crews preparing 21 units to house displaced residents.
“We currently are securing the (burned) building and erecting fencing around the impacted parts of the community,” Wilbert continued. “We also will have 24-hour security at the property all weekend to make sure the residences and any property inside them are secure.”