Four families homeless

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Atmore firefighters work to extinguish hot spots on the roof of the apartment Sunday afternoon.|Photo by Adam Prestridge

Four families have been displaced following a Sunday afternoon apartment fire in Atmore, fire chief Gerry McGhee said.

One of the buildings in the Everette Street Apartment Complex containing four housing units was destroyed by fire just before 2 p.m. Sunday. Smoke could be seen from miles away as it billowed from the rooftop of the building as fire quickly consumed it. The building was a total loss, leaving the families homeless.

“It was the biggest fire we have had lately,” McGhee said Tuesday morning. “One reason is because the apartments were built several years back and there was no firewall to divide the apartments. To bring it up to code, there would have to be a firewall installed between all of the units.”

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McGhee said the fire “possibly” started on the stove in one of the four units, but an exact cause has not yet been determined. He added that he does not anticipate an investigation by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office out of Montgomery.

Local American Red Cross representatives arrived on the scene just after 3 p.m. to begin the process of helping the families who lost their homes.

According to Samantha Zundel, owner of the apartment complex, truckloads of furniture and other needed items for the families have already been donated.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

According to Zundel, the families are still in need of beds, including mattresses and box springs, along with linens and other bedding such as pillows, kitchen utensils, cups, bowls and toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and razors.

“We have really been blessed,” Zundel said. “We live in great community, it’s a fabulous community.”

Zundel added that the families were provided with both food and clothing vouchers to use at their discretion.

Twenty-five firefighters from both the Atmore and Poarch fire departments worked to extinguish the flames. A total of eight fire vehicles were used to battle the blaze, which was fully involved upon rescue personnel arrival.

McGhee said he was pleased with his men and appreciated the assistance from neighboring Poarch.

“Everybody did a good job,” he said. “Everyone worked together. Thank God nobody got hurt. With that big of a fire, somebody could have easily gotten hurt.”

McGhee said firefighters remained on the scene for nearly four hours.

Atmore Police Department and Atmore Ambulance personnel also assisted at the scene.

If you would like to donate, items can be dropped off at Grace Fellowship located on Hwy. 31 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.