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Adelaide Park Apartments fire ruled arson

NORCROSS - Firefighters are investigating a fire that displaced seven families Monday at a Norcross apartment complex as an act of arson.

Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department, said the blaze began in a vacant apartment unit on the first floor of the Adelaide Park Apartments around 8 a.m.

He said investigators are not releasing details of the fire at the apartments at 808 Wynhollow Trace for fear of compromising the investigation.

"Investigators do believe (the fire) is an act of arson," Rutledge said. "But they don't want to volunteer the information of how and where it started."

He said heavy smoke was billowing from the two-story building when firefighters arrived, and the fire had extended into the second unit above the bottom-floor unit.

"A lady in her unit saw and smelled smoke and called 911," he said. "Everyone had been evacuated when we got there."

Rutledge said fire crews were able to stop the spread of the flames to the remainder of the building. Only two apartments were damaged by the flames and the remaining six lost power.

He said all seven occupied units - homes to 34 adults and three children - were evacuated before fire crews arrived and no one was injured.

The American Red Cross provided food and additional needs for the families not able to return to their units due to smoke damage and loss of electricity, Rutledge added.

Sherilyn Cruz, assistant manager for the apartment complex, said the displaced residents where to be housed in vacant apartments on site - all have smoke detectors.

"The residents will be moving into a new unit today," she said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the fire to call the Arson and Explosives Section of the Gwinnett County Fire Department at 678-518-4890 or the Georgia Arson Control hotline at 1-800-282-5804.

Georgia Arson Control Inc. offers a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for arson.

"We're hoping someone who knows something or may have seen someone in the apartment will come forward," Rutledge said. "And they can remain anonymous."