Authorities investigate ‘suspicious fire’ at Atlanta youth center

Police and federal authorities are investigating a "suspicious fire" at a youth center on Atlanta's Westside.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid / shaddi.abusaid@ajc.com

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Police and federal authorities are investigating a "suspicious fire" at a youth center on Atlanta's Westside.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid / shaddi.abusaid@ajc.com

2 people caught on surveillance footage running away

Authorities launched an arson investigation Friday morning after an overnight blaze at a youth center on Atlanta’s Westside.

Few details were released, but police and firefighters gathered at the At-Promise Youth Center, a facility for at-risk children funded by the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Members of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also called in before leaving around noon.

“It’s a suspicious fire under investigation,” an Atlanta fire investigator said outside the facility. Authorities appeared to focus on an area at the back of the building.

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Workers repair a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Workers repair a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

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Workers repair a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Atlanta Fire Rescue spokeswoman Alyssa Richardson said a crew was called to the youth center along Cameron M. Alexander Boulevard about 5:30 a.m. in response to a “waterflow alarm bell.”

“Upon arrival, firefighters found an audible alarm sounding, with light smoke and a small trash fire,” she said in a statement.

The fire was contained to a small office and no one was injured.

Atlanta fire officials released a video Friday evening and are asking for the public’s help to identify persons of interest seen in the footage. Two people wearing all-black outfits with hoodies are seen walking down the street carrying bags about 5:25 a.m., approaching the building and then running away.

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Investigators hope to identify two people seen running from the youth center around the time the fire began.

Credit: Atlanta Fire Rescue

Investigators hope to identify two people seen running from the youth center around the time the fire began.

Credit: Atlanta Fire Rescue

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Investigators hope to identify two people seen running from the youth center around the time the fire began.

Credit: Atlanta Fire Rescue

Credit: Atlanta Fire Rescue

One man swept up glass shards from a shattered window Friday morning, and the floor just inside the back entrance appeared to be flooded. A restoration crew arrived in the afternoon and the broken window was eventually boarded up.

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Workers sweep up glass and debris from a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Workers sweep up glass and debris from a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Workers sweep up glass and debris from a broken window at At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

The At-Promise Center opened in 2017 and was the first of three such facilities across the city. The other two are located in southwest Atlanta.

ExploreAtlanta city officials open 2nd center for at-risk youth

According to the Atlanta Police Foundation, the centers serve as a youth crime diversion program for more than 1,700 adolescents and teenagers. The APF works with more than 30 social service agencies to provide therapy, tutoring, mentoring, recreational activities and workforce preparation to Atlanta’s youth, according to its website.

Officials said the northwest Atlanta facility will likely remain closed for at least a week and that young people will be taken to one of the other centers.

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At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
At-Promise Youth Center on Friday, May 27 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.