DULUTH — Firefighters responded at 12:33 a.m. Friday to multiple reports of an apartment fire at the Montrose Berkeley Lake Apartments located in the 2300 block of Northwoods Lake Court in Duluth.
The 911 callers said an apartment was on fire with flames visible. As crews arrived on scene, another caller reported three people trapped on a third-floor balcony on the back side of the building.
On arrival, crews found heavy fire involvement on the left-front corner of a two-story apartment building with a lower-level terrace on the back side. Firefighters immediately deployed a hose line for fire attack in attempt to knock down the flames from the exterior.
A walkaround of the structure was completed and firefighters found the three trapped occupants on a third-floor balcony in the rear of the building. An extension ladder was immediately deployed and all three occupants — two adults and one child — were rescued.
As three additional hose lines were deployed to the involved first and second floor apartments, firefighters along with Duluth police officers completed evacuations of all 20 units. Aggressive firefighter tactics brought the fire under control in approximately 30 minutes with 40 firefighters operating at the scene.
While the entire building was initially evacuated, the 10 units on the right side were not damaged or affected, allowing those residents to return to their apartments. On the left side of the building, two units and the attic space sustained heavy fire damage with eight additional units sustaining moderate smoke and water damage.
A total of five occupants and a Duluth Police officer who assisted with evacuations were assessed by paramedics for various injuries and released on the scene.
According to the occupant in the unit that was the source of the fire, the occupant was cooking on the stove top when flames erupted. She was unable to control the fire and evacuated. Several of the surrounding apartments were alerted by working smoke alarms.
Two upstairs apartments were unable to exit through their front door on the left end of the building due to smoke conditions. Three of those on the back of the building were rescued by firefighters using a ground ladder and three on the front of the building jumped from a second-floor balcony prior to firefighters arriving at the scene.
A total of 18 people were displaced including 16 adults and two children. Property management and the American Red Cross responded are assisting those displaced.
A fire investigator responded to the scene for origin and cause investigation. Investigators determined the fire originated on the kitchen stovetop and was accidental in nature.
Firefighters encourage all citizens to practice home fire safety. Be sure to install working smoke alarms on every level of the home andin each bedroom. Develop a home escape plan and practice fire drills regularly. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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