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Fire damages seven apartments

The occupants of seven apartment units at 1540 Stark Avenue are temporarily displaced after a fire Sunday night damaged the eight-unit, single-story apartment complex.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was reported to Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services at 8:15 p.m., said Chief Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter.

The owners of the apartments, Premier Realtors of Columbus, plan to repair the damage. The company is putting up the occupants in a motel for a couple of nights and the American Red Cross is providing two more nights plus food for occupants of the six units with minimal damage from smoke and possibly water, and three or four nights more for the two brothers in Apartment 4 where the fire apparently originated, said Linda Rias, emergency services director for the West Central Georgia Chapter, American Red Cross. Clothing also is being provided for the brothers.

An occupant of Apartment 4 told fire investigators he left the apartment about 7 p.m. Sunday and got a call later from his sister that his apartment was on fire, said Streeter. Firefighters found heavy smoke in units near the southeast corner of the building, which is behind the Chick-Fil-A restaurant at 2421 Wynnton Road.

"All the burns were high burns," said Streeter. "The fire apparently originated in Apartment 4 in the southeast bedroom. The cause is undetermined, but faulty wiring cannot be ruled out."

He said an occupant of Apartment 6 said she kept having problems with electrical outlets, that every time she plugged something in, it would throw a breaker," Streeter said.

He said apartments 4, 6 and 7 were involved. Investigators estimated the damage at $200,000 to the building and $10,000 to the contents, with smoke and water damage to several units.

Rias said Apartment 4 appeared to be the only unit that is unliveable, but that Apartment 3 clearly had water damage and others sustained smoke damage. She said the odor of smoke needs to be cleared and that the power is cut off to the building.

"The apartment managers plan to assist them," said Rias. "There were two families with kids."

She said the Red Cross accepts financial donations to help provide help for such emergencies in the community. Donations can be sent to the American Red Cross, 3940 Rosemont Drive, Columbus, Ga. 31904. For more information about the Red Cross, call 706-323-5614.

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