Fire prompts evacuations at Atlanta senior living community

Atlanta fire Capt. Michael Williams moves 77-year-old Carrie Louise Sims following a fire at a senior living community.
Caption
Atlanta fire Capt. Michael Williams moves 77-year-old Carrie Louise Sims following a fire at a senior living community.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Atlanta firefighters evacuated the fifth floor of a senior living community Thursday morning after a fire broke out inside an apartment, officials said.

The fire occurred at the Lakewood Christian Manor off Springdale Road in southwest Atlanta, battalion Chief Tony Terrell said at the scene.

“The sprinkler system kept it in check,” and firefighters were able to get inside and extinguish the blaze, Terrell said, but crews were forced to evacuate residents on that floor because of water damage.

Fire officials said it appears the small blaze began inside a closet.

“We had a basket of clothes and laundry burning inside the closet,” Terrell said, adding that the fifth floor of the high-rise sustained water damage from the apartment’s sprinkler system. No injuries were reported, but seven residents have been displaced.

While fires at senior living complexes aren’t common, Terrell said the biggest challenge is evacuating residents who are unable to get out on their own. The building is nine stories tall and houses hundreds of residents, most of whom are older or disabled.

“The rest of the residents were allowed to shelter in place because we only had smoke in the hallway where we had the fire,” he said.

Volunteers from the American Red Cross responded to the scene and are offering temporary assistance to seven residents from six units that were damaged, agency spokeswoman Sherry Nicholson said. In addition, a company was called in to remove the water from the fifth floor.

“They’re going to have to wait until all the water is cleaned up before they can return to their apartments,” Terrell said.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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