Apartment fire leaves eight families homeless - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Apartment fire leaves eight families homeless

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB)  -  Fire swept through a building at the New Nativity Village apartments on South Madison Street around 11AM Thursday. One firefighter was hurt fighting the blaze and eight units sustained serious damage.

The fire did heavy damage to the apartments. There were a number of people, including several children, in those apartments when the fire broke out suddenly.

Investigators say an electrical short in the bottom apartment on the west side of the building started the fire, and then spread quickly.

Investigators say an electrical short in the bottom west apartment started the fire. Constance Hunt and her two sons, ages 2 and 5, got out in time. Upstairs, Tracy Candidate and her 2-year-old grandson Donquavious were asleep. Neighbors who spotted the fire woke them up.

"When I woke up I felt my floor caving in. I heard screaming on the outside, and I went to my window, and my whole window was on fire," Candidate said.

Candidate grabbed her grandson and barely made it to the front door through heavy black smoke. "I couldn't see anything. I immediately ran downstairs. Brother, if I could get down them or not, I immediately ran downstairs. By the time I got to the third step my window just blowed up."

Before firefighters arrived, neighbors in this South Albany community, like Sidniece Bates, started banging on doors to make sure everyone got out.

"He didn't know if there was an old lady that stayed next door," Bates said. "She was usually home. She didn't open her door, so we kicked in the top door to see if she was in there. No one was home."

 "I was in the shower and I heard loud knocking on the doors," said Laqwanya Wilcox. "My neighbor ran across and I could hear screaming. Something told me to open the door and there was just a pile of black smoke."

It was that quick action by neighbors that probably saved lives. Firefighters had to battle to keep that quick moving blaze contained to this half of the building.

"Yeah, if we hadn't went over the breezeway and pulled the ceiling up there so we could get into stop it, it would have run that attic like wildfire," AFD Battalion Chief Arthur Dyer said.

Tracy Candidate lost everything, but she says she is grateful. "The only thing I can do now is just be thankful we're out. Material things can be replaced, but your life can't."

Constance Hunt was in that apartment, with her two young sons, and her aunt said the three made a very frightening escape. 

"She smelled smoke," said the victim's aunt, Rosita Murray. "Her alarm did not go off or anything. When she realized it, she was trying to get out. She couldn't find one of her kids. One got out, and one was in. So she had to go back in the house to get the smallest kid. So they got out all right."

Firefighters contained the fire to this side of the apartment building,and kept it from spreading through the attic to those other four apartments on the other side of the building. But the best news, everyone got out uninjured, but these four families lost pretty much everything.

In all, eight families were displaced. The Red Cross is helping the fire victims, and a lot of their neighbors and family were here helping them today during the fire.

Firefighter Brett Hunter suffered a broken hand while working inside one of those apartments putting out the blaze. They say he is expected to make a full recovery.

The Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center owns that apartment complex.

The Pastor says they have empty apartments and will make those available to the displaced families.  The American Red Cross is also helping the families.


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