Victim identified in Albany boarding house fire; residents picking up the pieces

The fire happened at Tift Avenue and North Madison and there was a large emergency responder...
The fire happened at Tift Avenue and North Madison and there was a large emergency responder presence.(Source: WALB)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 12:38 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2022 at 3:27 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The female victim of the lethal Friday boarding house fire has now been identified. Two Albany men are also left picking up the pieces of their 100-year-old home which was right next door.

People who were living in the boarding house are also displaced and mourning the loss of Chatayunda Davis, 38, according to Dougherty County Coroner’s Office.

“It was very traumatic. Like gruesome to see it burn up in five minutes. It didn’t take long to burn up at all,” said Shelton Johnson, who lives on West Tift Avenue.

Johnson and Desmond Searcy live just steps away from the boarding home that burned down on West Tift Avenue on Friday.

They said that it was pure chaos.

“I could hear them inside the house, banging on the doors, trying to get people out. They were naming different people, trying to find out if everybody was getting out of the house. And like I said, the one girl that died over there, they went in to rescue her. But they couldn’t get her because it was so much smoke. It was like it was dark outside,” Johnson said.

The fire was so hot that firefighters were worried that Johnson and Searcy’s home would catch fire too.

“I really thank them, and I’m really appreciative of them because they were spraying our house just as much as they were spraying that house,” Johnson said.

But some damage could not be completely avoided.

A wall of their home came tumbling down and with it, the history of the 100-year-old structure.

“I don’t know how much it’s going to cost to restore everything back to the way it was. So ballparking it, I don’t know, maybe $5,000 or $10,000. I really don’t know,” Searcy said.

The two men said there were a lot of people in and out of the boarding home that burned down.

“I’m sorry for the loss of life over there. And the people that are displaced and homeless now, but to a certain extent, it’s a blessing in disguise to the community because a lot of drug activity went on over there. Just too many different things that are not appropriate for this neighborhood,” Searcy said.

Both men told WALB News 10 that the boarding home was not a shelter, but a low-rent facility.

“So, it was just a regular boarding house, but I just feel like (the owner) should have done better with the type of people that he rented to. And the type of company that they kept and all that type of stuff,” Searcy said.

WALB News 10 has reached out to the Albany Fire Department to learn more about the cause of the fire.