‘We lost everything’: Clayton County apartment complex destroyed by fire

Terrell Samuels carries a bag of clothes from his burned apartment Wednesday morning at the Ashford at Stoneridge Apartments on Flat Shoals Road. It was the only thing he could salvage from his fire-destroyed home.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

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Terrell Samuels carries a bag of clothes from his burned apartment Wednesday morning at the Ashford at Stoneridge Apartments on Flat Shoals Road. It was the only thing he could salvage from his fire-destroyed home.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Terrell Samuels said he expected only a brief disruption when what appeared to be a small fire broke out Wednesday night at his Clayton County apartment complex.

Samuels, his girlfriend and his two teenage children evacuated when they were alerted by a neighbor banging on their door around 7:30 p.m. To Samuels, flames shooting from a set of French doors in a neighboring building at the Ashford at Stoneridge complex seemed manageable.

That was before Clayton County fire crews ran into issues tapping into the water supply at the complex, located on Flat Shoals Road just east of Riverdale Road.

“They came to every fire hydrant in all this complex, no water. None,” Samuels said. “It took them an hour or two to go pull some water from somewhere down the street.”

According to Laura Richardson, the battalion chief for the Clayton fire department, the hydrants in the complex had reduced water pressure. Crews were able to connect to a hydrant on Flat Shoals Road to continue firefighting operations.

Samuels said the fire spread during the delay, eventually burning his 16-unit building to the ground. Fifteen of those units were occupied at the time of the fire, and a total of 38 residents were displaced, including children, according to officials with the Red Cross of Georgia.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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Clayton County apartment fire under control after hours long battle

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Flames raged for more than four hours before being extinguished around midnight, Samuels said. No one was reported injured.

“I lost everything,” he said. “I lost everything. I mean, I pay almost $1,500 in rent and everybody in this building, we lost everything.”

Samuels said only one bedroom in his home of three years wasn’t damaged, and he was able to recover some clothes. His family and dozens more will rely on help from volunteers with the Red Cross and apartment management to find temporary lodging.

The hydrants in the complex were serviced in October 2021 and were found to be in working order, Richardson said.

“The Fire Marshal’s Office is on the scene this morning working with the Water Authority and property management to determine the cause for reduced pressure,” the battalion chief said Thursday in a statement. “Once we complete the assessment, we will release additional information.”

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A charred building at the Ashford at Stoneridge Apartments was still smoldering Thursday morning more than 12 hours after fire broke out at the complex. According to the Red Cross, 38 people lost their homes.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

A charred building at the Ashford at Stoneridge Apartments was still smoldering Thursday morning more than 12 hours after fire broke out at the complex. According to the Red Cross, 38 people lost their homes.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

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A charred building at the Ashford at Stoneridge Apartments was still smoldering Thursday morning more than 12 hours after fire broke out at the complex. According to the Red Cross, 38 people lost their homes.

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Bulldozers moved into the complex Thursday morning and began razing the burned buildings. The Red Cross said it was meeting with the displaced families to provide emotional support and assess emergency needs.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.