What caused a big fire at an E. Albany apartment complex? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What caused a big fire at an E. Albany apartment complex?

July 20, 2007

Albany - Eight families are homeless as firefighters try to figure out what caused an East Albany apartment complex fire.  Thursday night around 9:30, a fire started in one apartment at the Hidden Oaks Apartment complex.  Firefighters put that fire out pretty quickly, but nearby apartments sustained a lot of water and smoke damag. Luckily several of the victims have renter's insurance.

Firefighters sift through the remnants of this apartment at Hidden Oaks, unfortunately, not much remains. "We're sifting through things as we go," said Investigator Sam Harris.

Albany Police officer Grady Rachel wasn't at home when the fire started in his apartment and investigators are trying to figure out what the cause is.  Harris said, "It's really too early to tell still.  What's happened is last night when they originally got here, the fire appeared to be in the attic, but fire burns upward and outward so you've got to look back into how it originated and how it got into the attic and we traced it back to this one room."

Firefighters say it appears nothing out of the ordinary took place, but things are anything but ordinary for the folks who used to live here.

"You have no control over what happens next door to you when you rent," said Richard Tison, an insurance adjuster for State Farm.  One of his clients lived in an adjoining apartment that sustained a lot of damage, but the good thing is she has renters insurance. "She's going to get her life back together quite rapidly."

He says this is a perfect example of why insurance is so important whether you rent or own. "You're on your own," he said, "We call that self-insured.  You have to depend on friends, families and neighbors, whoever possible because in a disaster like this several of these people have lost everything they owned.  Where do they go?  What do they do?"

But with the help of insurance, they simply continue with their lives, even if they may not live in the same place anymore.

Hidden Oaks Management actually started requiring all tenants to begin carrying renters insurance last year. Right now, it appears only one apartment was destroyed, though others were heavily damaged. Families may be able to get back in their apartments tonight to collect belongings.

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