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20 left homeless after fire

NORCROSS - Residents of a Norcross apartment complex were forced to jump to safety during a predawn fire Sunday that left more than 20 people homeless, officials said.

Fire investigators worked Monday to pinpoint the cause of the 1:09 a.m. blaze at Huntington Village Apartments, though foul play has been ruled out, authorities said.

The fire destroyed all eight units of a two-story apartment block, located on Forest Vale Lane off Jimmy Carter Boulevard. Gwinnett police, who arrived first, saw towering flames and went door-to-door to evacuate the building, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

"Several residents were able to escape by jumping from the window in ground-floor apartments," he said.

The fire threatened a second building nearby but firefighters were able to contain it, quenching the blaze in about an hour, Rutledge said.

Of the eight destroyed units, five were occupied at the time.

More than 20 residents were displaced. Apartment management teamed with the American Red Cross on Sunday to provide assistance, Rutledge said.

A man was taken by ambulance to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta with a burn injury. Rutledge was unable to provide his name, condition or specific injury information Monday due to federal patient privacy laws, he said.

No other injuries were reported.

The building, built in the 1970s, was not equipped with sprinklers or fire walls, Rutledge said. Due to its age, the property didn't violate Georgia code by not being equipped with the safety measures.

"It was built in a time when fire sprinklers and fire walls were not common practice in new construction," he said.

According to the property manager, he said, the individual apartment units were equipped with smoke detectors.

Apartment management did not return a call requesting comment Monday.

A representative at the complex said employees were "extremely busy" Monday trying to accommodate those who've lost their homes.