8 lose homes to fire
10 apartments damaged in afternoon blaze

DULUTH - Authorities are investigating a large blaze Monday that severely damaged 10 apartments and displaced eight residents. No one was injured.

Firefighters were dispatched to the Gwinnett Crossing apartments - located just off Satellite Boulevard near West Liddell Road in Duluth - about 5:44 p.m. Monday. They arrived to find fire blowing through the roof of a three-story building containing 20 units, Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said.

Due to the quick action of fire crews and the presence of a fire wall, the forward progress of the fire was stopped, but not before it caused extensive damage to 10 units in the building, Rutledge said. An aerial ladder pipe was used to put out the bulk of the blaze while firefighters on the ground worked to extinguish hot spots and clear smoke.

Police and maintenance personnel went door-to-door to evacuate the building when firefighters arrived. As of 9 p.m., all occupants of the building had been accounted for, Rutledge said.

The blaze appeared to have originated near the oven area of an apartment, Rutledge said, though the exact cause was still undetermined. It did not appear to be suspicious, according to fire investigators.

Helen Martin, 41, came home to find the second-story apartment she shares with her boyfriend ravaged by the fire. Though she mourned their lost possessions, she was thankful no one was injured.

"I don't really care about the stuff," she said wiping away tears. "They are just material things."

The American Red Cross was called to provide care for eight displaced residents. Red Cross volunteer Hal Simmons said the Gwinnett Service Center would provide shelter, food and clothing.

A large plume of smoke could be seen from the Daily Post's building on Old Norcross Road during rush hour Monday. On the scene, thick smoke covered a stretch of Satellite Boulevard and the interior of the apartment complex. Scores of apartment residents stood behind the fire line to watch as crews worked.

Monday's incident was considered a one-alarm fire with a special call for two additional engines, Rutledge said.

More than 50 firefighters responded.