Roads remain closed around Atlanta apartments that went up in flames

Fireworks may have caused blaze, cops say
A massive fire engulfed northeast Atlanta's Reserve at LaVista Walk apartments on Friday night, displacing residents.

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

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

A massive fire engulfed northeast Atlanta's Reserve at LaVista Walk apartments on Friday night, displacing residents.

Roads around a northeast Atlanta apartment complex remain closed Monday after a massive blaze destroyed much of the building Friday night.

Two people were arrested after countless residents were forced to evacuate the Reserve at LaVista Walk apartments on Lavista Road around 10:35 p.m. Friday.

Firefighters encountered heavy smoke and fire on the roof of the four-story building. All residents were able to evacuate in time, but 17 people were treated for smoke inhalation and various minor injuries, fire officials said. The blaze required more than 80 firefighters and burned for much of the day Saturday.

“Incident Command upgraded the response to a second alarm and, ultimately, a third alarm for additional resources,” Atlanta police said.

The investigation revealed that the fire may have started due to fireworks being ignited from the roof, police said. Robert Stokes, 42, and Charnelle Gunn, 24, were detained at the scene and booked into the Fulton County Jail on Saturday, according to officials. They are facing charges of first-degree criminal damage to property and reckless conduct.

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More than a hundred residents had to evacuate, and the fire department said the Red Cross is assisting 28 displaced residents. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city is working to have resources available for those impacted by the fire.

“My thoughts remain with the families and the city will continue to find additional ways to support their road to recovery,” Dickens said.

An Atlanta police officer was a resident of the complex and lost all of his belongings, police Chief Darin Schierbaum told Channel 2 Action News from the scene. Schierbaum called the officer a hero and said he helped others instead of going to save his cat.

“When he got the call, he returned here — he works in another part of the city — he and other officers started going floor to floor making sure everyone was aware of the fire, assisting in getting individuals out and he opted to do that instead of returning to his apartment to save possessions or to save his cat,” he said.

The fire engulfed northeast Atlanta's Reserve at LaVista Walk apartments.

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

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

Several residents told Channel 2 they thought it was a false alarm but quickly realized they had to evacuate when they smelled the smoke and heard the commotion outside.

“I heard people knocking at the door, and my friend called me, ‘It’s real, get out!’ I’m like, OK, I’m out!” Kala Scott said.

Parts of Lavista and Cheshire Bridge roads remained closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic Monday morning. According to Atlanta Fire Rescue, Lavista Road from Cheshire Bridge Road to Citadel Drive and from Lindbergh Street to Alco Street will remain closed until further notice.

Parts of the complex's roof was swallowed by the flames and completely destroyed.

Credit: Contributed

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Credit: Contributed

No access to the parking decks or buildings 1000 and 2000 will be granted due to collapse hazards, the department announced. Fire crews and engineers were inspecting the building’s integrity Monday morning. Depending on the outcome, some residents could be allowed into their lower-level units to retrieve belongings, Channel 2 reported.

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

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