DeKalb residents leap from 2nd story to escape massive blaze

Five people were taken to the hospital and dozens of residents were displaced by the massive fire.

Credit: DeKalb County Fire Rescue

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Five people were taken to the hospital and dozens of residents were displaced by the massive fire.

Credit: DeKalb County Fire Rescue

Dozens displaced by overnight fire

Several people were taken to the hospital early Saturday after a massive fire broke out at a DeKalb County apartment complex, forcing some residents to jump from the second story to escape the blaze.

Crews responded to the two-alarm fire in the 2500 block of Columbia Woods Drive about 2 a.m. and found three buildings engulfed in flames, DeKalb fire Capt. Dion Bentley said.

Several people were seen leaping from windows to escape the intense heat and smoke. Firefighters went into “rescue mode” to make sure all 24 units were clear, Bentley said. Two people were rescued, including one person who was asleep in a second-story bedroom, he said.

Firefighters used a ladder to rescue the second resident from a unit at the back of the building. In all, nine people were injured and five were taken to the hospital, authorities said. Everyone is expected to survive, but three dozen people were displaced.

Johnny Hill, who lives at The Forest at Columbia Apartments, told Channel 2 Action News he lost everything in the fire.

“Everything I own is right here on my back,” he told the news station. “The fire spread so quick. I mean it spread fast.”

He and his fiancée were able to escape the flames, but Hill said building where the fire began was destroyed by the time the first crews arrived at the complex.

“One guy jumped out the window and broke his back. Another hurt his leg,” Hill said. “I’m just glad that everyone got out alive.”

The American Red Cross is assisting 36 people from 13 families, the agency said Saturday. Volunteers will help the displaced residents find a temporary place to stay and provide them with food, personal items and prescription drugs.

The cause of the massive fire remains under investigation.

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