40 people without homes after massive Duluth apartment fire

DULUTH — Gwinnett County fire officials say 40 people are without homes after a major fire at a Duluth apartment complex Friday.

Firefighters responded at 5:30 p.m. to a resident’s report of an apartment fire at the Bridgewater Apartments at 2600 Ridge Brook Trail NW in Duluth. The 911 caller said the apartment was on fire with two patios engulfed in flames.

Crews arrived on the scene and found a working fire on a two-three split apartment building. Fire engulfed the rear of the building on the left side. Flames were quickly consuming the rear decks and extending into the attic space. Additional firefighters made access to the breezeway and confirmed the apartments in close proximity to danger were evacuated.

Gwinnett County police officers checked those apartments prior to the fire department’s arrival and continued to evacuate the remaining residents from the other breezeway. While an aggressive interior fire attack was made on the top floor, crews were forced to change their strategy to a defensive attack due to heavy fire involvement in the attic and the collapse of the roof.

Three apartments sustained significant fire damage and two additional apartments under those units sustained extensive water damage. An additional 15 apartments were affected and displaced. Nearly 45 firefighters responded to the scene to bring the major apartment fire under control in approximately an hour. No injuries were reported at the scene including pets.

See photos of the blaze below:

One of the occupants, whose top floor apartment was extensively damaged, said he noticed the smoke and flames through the windows in his living room. He quickly gathered some items and evacuated his family to safety. Due to the location of the flames, fire alarm systems did not activate right away.

Maintenance staff from the property were in the area checking on residents when the fire broke out and played an integral role in evacuating those in the danger. One staff member forced entry into a top-floor apartment to alert and evacuate a resident. A total of 40 adults and children were displaced from 19 occupied units. Property management and the American Red Cross were on the scene to provide temporary assistance to those in need.

A fire investigator responded to the scene for the origin and cause determination. The investigator determined the fire originated on the rear balcony of the main floor apartment on the left side of the building. The cause remains under active investigation.

For additional information on home fire safety, please contact the Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services’ Community Risk Reduction Division at 678-518-4845 or email fireprograms@gwinnettcounty.com

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