Gwinnett fire officials said a fire that began on a screened in patio caused major damage to apartment complex in Norcross, displacing 26 people early Monday morning.

Firefighters were called to the Las Palamas Apartments on Seasons Parkway at 3:10 a.m. and found the back side of the building was engulfed in flames when they arrived. Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the flames had already broken through the roof of the building as well before firefighters arrived.

The residents living in the building had already evacuated it before firefighters arrived and Rutledge said no injuries were reported. Rutledge said at least one woman climbed out of a window to escape the flames.

“Per the first-due engine, one woman kicked out a window screen and climbed out on the ledge from the second floor,” he said. “She was assisted down by neighbors and police as firefighters were getting off the truck.”

Investigators believe the fire was an accident and spread from a patio in the center of the back of the building.

The flames spread quickly to apartments on the second and third floors of the building, as well as the attic.

The investigators are unable to determine whether the fire was the result of smoking materials or electrical components, however, because of the extent of the damage.

Rutledge said fire attack and water supply hoses were used to make an “aggressive” transitional-offensive attack on the fire.

“Firefighters flowed water from one (two-and-a-half)-inch diameter hose line, three (one-and-three-quarters)-diameter hose lines, and the aerial ladder pipes to darken down the bulk of the flames and complete extinguishment,” Rutledge said. “The blaze caused heavy damage to five apartment units and significant smoke heat and water damage to several adjoining units.”

Rutledge said The Red Cross provided assistance to the residents who were displaced because of the fire.

The fire was brought under control at about 3:35 a.m.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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