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Blaze hits complex 2nd time

NORCROSS - Nearly seven months after a fire displaced 74 residents of the Copper Mill Apartments, an early morning blaze on Monday destroyed another building in the complex, displacing a dozen families.

Apartment management had placed each of the families in new units that day, said Martha Logan of Ram Partners, the company that manages the complex. Eight homes in the 20-unit building were vacant, and 21 to 23 people, including some children, were displaced, fire officials said.

Monday's fire was the first at the complex since Ram Partners started managing the property late last year, Logan said. The complex was built during the 1970s, a time when building codes did not mandate the installation of fire walls or sprinklers, officials said.

Monday's fire started in the center core of the building and extended into the attic, said Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it does not appear to be suspicious, he said.

Firefighters received the fire alarm at 1:16 a.m., and flames were showing through the roof when crews arrived, Rutledge said. Sixteen units were heavily damaged by fire, he said.

No one was injured in the blaze, Rutledge said. Firefighters reported hearing smoke alarms going off when they arrived.

The description of Monday's fire was similar to the one given of the blaze that broke out at 12:12 a.m. Sept. 30. That fire also started in the center of the building and extended into the attic.

Monday afternoon, the acrid smell of smoke lingered near the charred building where the fire broke out. The roof of the building had collapsed, and a fence had been erected around the building.

Some residents sat outside of the apartment's management office Monday afternoon, but they said they were not displaced by the fire and did not see what happened.

Copper Mills Apartments is located at the corner of Dawson Boulevard and Seasons Parkway, just east of the DeKalb County line and a few yards away from Interstate 85.