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

Apartment fire leaves families homeless

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March 30, 2006

Adel - Several South Georgia families are homeless after a fire broke out at their apartment complex.

Just after 10:00 Wednesday night, a grease fire started in one of the units at the Oak Terrace apartment complex in Adel. The fire destroyed that apartment and several others around it. Firefighters put out the fire and all the hot spots, and left the scene around 2:30 Thursday morning.

But a few hours later, another fire broke out at the other end of the complex and destroyed several more units. Investigators aren't sure if the two fires are connected. "We had three different crews go in and check the south end apartments and found no sign of any fire activity, they used a thermal imaging camera and found no hot spots, so right now we're treating it as two fires until the investigation is over," said Fire Chief Jimmy Walker.

The families displaced by the fire spent the day picking up the pieces and wondering where they'll go from here.  Shylanda Conaway stared in disbelief at the place she once called home. "We lost everything, really," said Conaway.

A smoky, charred mess is all that's left of her unit at Oak Terrace Apartments. When she got the call Wednesday night that a grease fire had started at the complex, she rushed home from work to check things out. Luckily, her apartment was okay. "It was just smoky, so I left because I couldn't go back in," said Conaway. "I thought that was a blessing."

But just a few hours after firefighters put out that blaze, another fire started near Shylanda's unit. When she came back this morning, she couldn't believe what she saw. "I found out the fire had started back and my house was pretty much gone," said Conaway.

It's the same story for Amber Abernathy. Besides a little smoke damage, her home was spared in the first fire. She grabbed a few picture albums from inside and left, thinking everything else would be fine. Now, those pictures are all she has. "I'm supposed to be getting married in July, and all my stuff's in there," said Abernathy.

They've all lost their clothes, furniture, and pretty much everything else they owned. But they still have the one thing that can't be replaced, their lives. "I'm just going to let the Lord guide me in the direction he wants me to go, just try to rebuild and start over," said Stafford.

The Red Cross is providing the fire victims with a hotel room for a couple of nights, and gave them all free vouchers for Wal-Mart, so they can buy clothes and food. It's the first step on the long, hard road to starting over.

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