A pine straw fire spread to the dead dry leaves of a tree, raced up its branches and like a torch ignited the eaves and attic of a Fort Benning Road apartment building Saturday, damaging four units so badly that the residents had to be sheltered by the Red Cross.
Batallion 1 Fire Chief Terry Herring said that once the fire got into the attic of the Patton Arms Apartments at 2314 Fort Benning Road, it burned from the building’s west side to its east, damaging units on each side. Residents in Apartments 105, 106, 205 and 206 had to seek other shelter because it was unsafe for them to remain there, Herring said.
It was unclear how the pine straw was ignited, but a swath of it yards long was charred, burning shrubs planted along the apartment’s edge. Once the blaze got to the tree, it shot up along a corner of the building, melting blinds in a nearby window, and spread into the attic.
Firefighters were summoned at 5:04 p.m. to a brush fire, Herring said, and had to call for backup when they saw the building was on fire.