Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Gwinnett County fire crews battle a large apartment fire in Norcross on Monday afternoon.
Norcross Apartment Fire
Crews battled a fire at a Norcross apartment complex on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011.
NORCROSS — The bad news: Fire ravaged a Norcross apartment complex Monday afternoon, destroying 10 individual units.
The good news: Only three of those units were occupied, and a firewall likely stopped the blaze from destroying even more apartments.
Gwinnett County firefighters responded to the Highpointe Village apartments on Chase Lane just after 1 p.m., finding heavy smoke and flames pouring from one of the complex’s buildings, department spokesman Capt. Jeff Johnson said. Several units were called out, but crews were not able to stop the blaze from making half of the building a total loss.
Firefighters worked well into the afternoon to completely extinguish the fire, picking apart seared wood and wading through the skeleton of a building.
Robert Dure, a resident in the complex for five years, called the fire “shocking.”
“One of our neighbors came running up and was banging on our window. We didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “We came running out here and saw this fire just blazing.”
Despite the size of the blaze, there was solace in the fact that only three of the affected units were occupied, thanks to a firewall that did not allow the fire to spread to the other half of the building. The six residents of those units were displaced but unharmed, Johnson said.
The apartment leasing company was making arrangements for those affected to stay elsewhere on the premises.
Johnson could not confirm that the specific building that burned Monday had been the previous victim of a fire, but said that “a couple” within the complex had burned in the past. The firewall that halted the flames would have been an addition made to keep the complex up to code after its construction in the 1970s, he said.
Investigators are attempting to determine the cause of the fire Monday afternoon.
“The fire wall did its job and was able to keep the bulk of the fire on the side where it started,” Johnson said. “It probably saved the other half of the building.”
Dure said that neighbors that had their homes destroyed were taking it hard Monday.
“One lady that lived there was just standing here crying,” he said. “All her belongings are just gone.”