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Apartment fire displaces families

POSTED: May 13, 2009 11:00 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Raintree residents talk with HPD Officer Donald Nunnally.

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Residents stood outside their apartments Tuesday afternoon as firefighters climbed ladders to the roof of a smoking building at Raintree Apartments, 601 Saunders Ave.
At 12:58 p.m., approximately 20 firefighters from the Hinesville and Fort Stewart fire departments were dispatched to a structure fire that started in the laundry room of one building. The apartment complex is composed of four buildings.
“We believe the fire started while a maintenance man was using a torch, sweating some plumbing fittings, causing the fire to spread, continuing up the side of the wall and then into the attic,” Hinesville Fire Chief Lamar Cook said.
The maintenance man’s identity was not available . However, fire officials said he was taken to a medical facility to be treated for smoke inhalation.
No other injuries were reported.
Residents said the unidentified maintenance man knocked on everyone’s doors, asking them to get out before HFD showed up.
A man, who lives in an apartment that caught fire, was not home at the time. Responders at the scene tried to contact him.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within 30 minutes using two fire hoses.
After the fire was out, Cook said his men used an axe and a chainsaw to ventilate the structure.
“All that heat and smoke was in there so they had to cut a hole in the roof in order to get into the [attic] and operate.”
By 3:30 p.m., some residents were getting word they would be able to re-enter their apartments, but a report Wednesday morning said all residents of that building were told to seek other shelter temporarily while the building is being checked. They are being put up in a motel by the apartment’s property managers.
“We have already made arrangements with the motels in the area,” said Scott Vitatoe, regional manager of Dewar Properties, Inc. “It could be two to three weeks before they will be getting ’em back in.”
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