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Stove fire leaves 26 without homes

LAWRENCEVILLE - An early morning fire left 26 people displaced from a Lawrenceville apartment complex Friday.

The fire broke out at

2:39 a.m. at the Richmond on the Fairway Apartments at 3344 Fairway Oaks Drive, when a man fell asleep and left food unattended on the stove, Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said.

"It took approximately 50 firefighters an hour and a half to knock down the bulk of the flames," Rutledge wrote in an e-mail. "Two additional engines and a squad were special called to the scene above the first-alarm assignment."

While a firewall helped firefighters contain the blaze, the flames broke through the roof of the building, Rutledge said. Because of the high volume of water needed to supply a ladder pipe and multiple hose lines, firefighters experienced low water pressure inside the complex, he added. Firefighters remained on the scene dousing hot spots until 9 a.m.

Rutledge said the man who had been cooking awoke when smoke filled his apartment. He jumped from a second-story window to escape the fire, but no one, including the man, was injured.

Four units on the left side of the firewall sustained heavy damage, and two units on the right were moderately damaged.

The American Red Cross provided assistance to 26 people displaced by the blaze, Rutledge said.