News 12 at 11, August 16, 2007
AUGUSTA, GA-- "Every time I thought about it, I cried more." Says single mother Anjannette Robinson. She's lost her home and her car, and she's not alone.
A total of eight families without a roof over their heads after an early morning fire at the Madison on the Green apartment complex off of Washington Road. The two alarm fire broke out around 3:30 Thursday morning.
Inside the burning building, asleep, was Anjannette and her three children. "I heard screaming and people banging on the door, then some strange man is running through the apartment grabbing the kids. Then outside people are screaming the cars are on fire, and I realize that's my car!"
Her middle child, 14-year-old Britney remembers that moment. "She was screaming my car! my car! and she was crying, the flames were coming up and her inhaler was inside. It's gone, it's melted too."
The family's car is one of four the fire reached and destroyed. It's roped off along with the units the fire engulfed. The Robinson's apartment is behind the units that were destroyed. Their's has smoke damage and a lot was damaged inside, but they are luckier than others.
Now, Anjannette, 17-year-old Briona, Britney, and 12-year-old Jeffrey are now calling the Masters Inn Motel home. "It's cramped, and it's small, but it's something." says Britney.
Neighbor Tyrone Dixon and his Dad are also staying at the motel. " I'm angry because of someone left a cigarette, I want to know if the fire was set by accident or on purpose." says Tyrone.
Fire investigators tell News 12 they think the fire was caused by a cigarette left on the dry ground. The moderate to severe drought is affecting every county in our area and the drought is helping to fuel fires, fast. Another example is the fire in Aiken last week, caused by sparks from a train.
"The ground is so dry that the vegetation is just waiting to burn." says Columbia County Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann. He and another firefighter demonstrated to News 12 how quickly a fire can start after a cigarette is left to smolder on the ground. "It's amazing how fast it can burn." says Kuhlmann.
Fast moving flames, rapidly destroying homes, and cars; changing lives. It's a burden Anjannette, like many others affected by the fire, hadn't prepared for. "Still stressing because I don't know what we're going to do after this third day."
The Red Cross is paying to keep the families at the motel until Sunday morning. The Red Cross told News 12 they've spent six thousand dollars to help the families from the fire. If you would like to help, contact the Augusta Red Cross at (706) 724-8481 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.