UPDATE: 2 fires in 72 hours displace 48 at Gwinnett apartment

Nearly 50 people, including 20 children, were displaced after two fires burned through their Gwinnett County apartment complex in 72 hours.

Crews responded to the first fire at the Forest Vale Apartments off Jimmy Carter Boulevard just before 8:45 p.m. Thursday.

“Active flames were found in the walls, flooring system and attic” of the two-story, wood-framed apartment building in the 1100 block of Forest Vale Way near Norcross, Gwinnett County fire spokesman Donald Strother said Monday in a news release.

The blaze caused heavy damage in the attic as well as moderate smoke and fire damage along the party wall and bathrooms to four units.

“The exact cause is undetermined but not suspected to be criminal in nature,” Strother said.

The Red Cross assisted eight adults and five children with temporary shelter.

The second fire extensively damaged several units at the complex. Strother said crews arriving to the fire just before 9 p.m. Sunday saw “a thick column of black smoke on the skyline.”

Heavy flames were pushing out of the rear of apartment complex, he said. All units were evacuated before firefighters arrived, but two dogs did not make it out. While one was rescued during a search and survived, the other was found dead, Strother said.

The flames were under control by 10:30 p.m.

“Crews were successful in extinguishing the blaze, but there is extensive fire damage to both sides of the breezeway, most notably to the two units upstairs on the backside of the building,” the spokesman said.

Other nearby units had smoke and water damage, and some had holes in the roof.

“Fire investigators have ruled the fire accidental and electrical in nature,” Gwinnett fire spokesman Lt. Justin Wilson said. “The fire originated in the area of a power strip. The fire is not related to the apartment fire at the same complex on May 30.”

Red Cross was called to assist the 20 adults and 15 children displaced by the second blaze. Some of those families will be housed in empty units at the apartment complex, Strother said, and the Red Cross will help find housing for the others.

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