Five lose homes to Augusta apartment fire

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April 10, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---An apartment fire this afternoon near Augusta State University has left five people homeless.

It happened at the Yorktown Apartments on Arsenal Avenue.

The five people living in the part of the complex destroyed by the fire have lost everything, but no one was hurt.

Fire investigators say the fire started from a dryer in a laundry closet.

Chester Bachevski watched as firefighters hosed out his home.

"I lost everything, so I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.

Chester suffers from asthma and emphysema, so when he smelled smoke coming from an apartment next door, he grabbed his oxygen tanks. Then he ran to notify his neighbor, who had no idea his unit was burning badly.

"I was just in the shower, and my neighbor came and got me, and I smelled smoke, and my apartment was on fire," Albert Olmstead said.

Fire investigators say the blaze broke out around noon, starting in a laundry closet on the outside of the apartments.

"Flames were shooting out of the roof, it went up so fast," Chester said.

And because the apartments are old and made of plywood, officials say the flames spread fast.

Tommy Edwards owns the Yorktown Apartments. He says it took firefighters too long to arrive.

"It shouldn't take over three to four minutes for the fire department to get here from on Highland Avenue," Edwards said. "In this case, it took between then 10 to 15 minutes, maybe longer."

"We were here within two minutes of the time we received the call," said Chief Richard Burts with the Augusta Fire Department. "As far as anything else, I don't know."

Albert is set to graduate from Augusta State in May and says this couldn't have come a worse time...but he says he'll be alright.

"It's quite a catastrophe, but I'm trying to stay positive," he said. "I'm here. All my stuff's gone, but that can be replaced."

No one was hurt in the fire. The Red Cross was out this afternoon helping the folks with clothing and a place to stay.

The Augusta Red Cross is also asking for your donations. They say they're running low on money after helping a number of fire victims so far this year.

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