8 families displaced by blaze
2 firefighters injured

DULUTH - Two firefighters suffered minor injuries Sunday evening battling a two-alarm blaze at 4208 Rogers Creek Court in Duluth that left eight families homeless, an official said.

One firefighter cut his hand and was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville for stitches, said Capt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

The other firefighter injured his shoulder after he fell through a hole in the floor while working in the attic of one of two buildings affected by the fire, Rutledge said. That firefighter was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in Duluth for treatment.

Both men were released from the hospital Sunday night, Rutledge said.

Residents called 911 to report the fire just before 6 p.m. Sunday. One caller reported hearing small explosions as the fire spread, and firefighters could see a thick column of black smoke as they approached, Rutledge said.

The first crews to arrive found heavy flames showing from the back of a two-story, eight-unit townhome building with the fire quickly spreading to a nearby building, Rutledge said. The fire was burning in the attic of the first building, with flames breaking through the roof when firefighters arrived, he said.

"Crews had their hands full from the time they arrived," Rutledge said.

More than 50 firefighters helped put out the inferno, which was under control about an hour and a half after firefighters were first dispatched. The fire was contained to the two buildings, and only four units in each building - eight in total - were damaged, Rutledge said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Monday, Rutledge said. The Fire Department was looking into reports that the blaze may have been caused by a barbecue grill, he said.

Firefighters believe the explosions heard by some witnesses may have been caused by several grill tanks exposed to intense heat and flame impingement, Rutledge said.

The Red Cross provided assistance to the families displaced by the fire, Rutledge said. Some of the residents were out of town, and firefighters and the homeowners' association worked to contact them.