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Flames rage through apartments; tenants OK

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- Two women and three children fled from a raging fire in their apartment building in the New Nativity Village complex just after 11 a.m. Thursday.

Standing outside the charred ruins of her home at 601 Mission Court Drive, off Madison Street, Constance Hunt did not know how the fire started in her first floor apartment.

"It started in my apartment, but I haven't a clue how it did," said Hunt, 25. "All I know is I was in the living room when big fat smoke came in, flames were at the windows. I grabbed my children and got out."

Looking wide-eyed and stunned, the Hunt children, Shanard, 2, and Keshawn, 4, were held and comforted by family and friends.

Before the fire, another woman, Tracy Candidate, 36, and her grandson Donquanious Candidate, 2, slept until the flames climbed up and threatened the floor.

"When I woke up my windows were cracking, the floor was coming apart and I grabbed my granbaby and ran," Tracy Candidate said. "All the flames and everything was filled with black smoke. It was all black."

The cause of the fire was an electrical short, Albany Fire Department Battalion Chief Arthur Dyer said.

In fire department parlance the building was "fully involved" when firefighters arrived at 11:23 a.m., Dyer said. Flames raged through the attic roof and smoke poured into the sky from the two apartments in the eight apartment building.

Firefighters attached hoses to hydrants and water poured onto the flames.

To prevent the fire from spreading to other apartments about 12 firefighters from the five trucks scrambled into the breezeway, pulled down the ceiling and pumped water in advance of the flames.

The firefighting teams put the fire out by 11:53 a.m. Dougherty County EMS personnel stood by the scene since the fire began. There were no injuries to treat.

A thorough search yielded no one in the apartments, Dyer said. Investigation personnel sifted through the rubble as other firefighters put water to any still smoldering hot spots.

Two apartments were destroyed, Dyer said. The other two on that side of the building sustained smoke and heat damage, but the four apartments in the building's other half were undamaged.

"The electric meters were on the side of the building where the fire was," Dyer said. "They pulled all eight meters so there is no power to the apartments."

There was no word available on when the residents of the unaffected apartments could return home, officials said.

Bud Greco, emergency services director for the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the Red Cross, called The Herald and said he was on the scene, but he could not be reached later for more information.