A fire that damaged parts of the top two floors of a Toco Hill apartment complex and displaced its residents late Friday morning was caused by a grease fire, a DeKalb County Fire Rescue official said.
A fourth-floor resident of the at 1060 North Jamestown Rd. caused a grease fire while cooking at about 11am, said Winford Smith, an assistant chief with the fire department.
The resident tried to extinguish the flames, he said, but the fire had already spread to the wall and climbed to the complex's fifth floor and attic. Several apartment units were immediately damaged by the fire and firefighters who had to destroy parts of the roof to extinguish the fire, Smith said. Residents on the floors below said they've been told their apartments may also have suffered water damage.
No one was injured in the fire, and firefighters also managed to rescue a cat from the fifth floor, he said. The department responded in about five minutes and had the fire controlled within 30 to 45 minutes. Nearly 40 residents–many of them elderly–were displaced from their apartments and were told they wouldn't be able to return Friday night, said Kyla DeReaux, an employee with the apartment complex's management company, Tribridge Residential. Some were being temporarily shuttled to the senior center nearby while others arranged to stay the night with friends or relatives. It was unclear when residents would be able to move back into their apartments, she said.
Officials with the complex ordered pizza and other food for the residents at about 2pm and were asking them to contact their rental insurance carriers to cover any damage.
David Zeidler, a second-floor resident, heard the fire alarm sound at about 11am. He said several residents wandered outside, and when he realized something serious had occured, he ran back inside and grabbed his cat.
"I was just more concerned about my neighbors," he said. "As long as I got my cat, my ID and my bank card, I'm good."
After the fire was controlled, firefighters returned to individual apartments to grab medication many of the residents need.
Susan Fontenot, a second-floor resident, said the fire was the first serious event at the complex in the two or so years she's lived there.
"I grabbed my things, and I got out," she said after she was alerted to the fire when a neighbor tapped on her window.
A large group of emergency personnel and trucks were parked along North Jamestown Road, and county police shut down access to the street from North Druid Hills and Clairmont roads for nearly three hours.
The Williamsburg apartment complex was a senior community until it converted to an all-ages apartment complex two years ago, DeReaux said.