September 26, 2006
Albany--Albany firefighters say a discarded cigarette in a trash can caused a devastating afternoon apartment fire that left a dozen families homeless.
Many of the families displaced by the fire spent much of the day salvaging what valuables they could and spent tonight settling into temporary homes.
News 10's was there as families surveyed the damage for the first time and began trying to move forward.
From burnt ceilings to a floor that now looks like a junk yard, this is what's left of Arcrayalha Stewart's apartment.
"I'm just torn to look at the disaster that happened. I lost everything I worked hard for. Now I have to start all over again," she says.
The fire started in Stewart's bedroom.
"It burned the trash can, the outlet there, it's gone," She says.
For Stewart and her two children, starting over won't be easy.
"I ain't got no clothes, me or my kids. We're homeless," she says.
So are many others who once called this apartment building home. Many spent the day salvaging what they could.
"I'm just trying to see if I can take what I do have," says Toreion Gassaway. She walked away with very little.
"I don't have no clothes or nothing upstairs, no bed or nothing like that, everything was damaged," says Gassaway.
The few items she saved included a TV, a few wash rags, and some socks--which all filled her car's trunk.
"This is all I got, it's really nothing," says Gassaway.
"Material stuff, you can get that back," says Shameka Woodson.
She called in movers from Rent-A-Center to help her pack.
"They're just getting my furniture and holding it for me because I don't really have no where to take it," says Woodson.
Despite losing everything, folks like Woodson remain positive.
"Just be thankful we're still alive," says Woodson.
"We'll leave it in God's hands, we'll be all right," says Gassaway.
Even For Stewart, who has only the clothes on her back, is counting her blessings.
"I thank God no body was here when it happened," says Stewart.
The American Red Cross gave vouchers from Harvey's to 11 families displaced by the fire. The organization will also pay to put them up in an Albany motel for three nights.
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