A two-alarm fire sparked by a cigarette ripped through a building at the granddaddy of gay apartment complexes in Midtown late Wednesday, displacing about 40 residents.
No one was in injured in the blaze at Ansley Forest Apartments, a more than 50-year-old complex that fronts Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive across from Ansley Square Mall. The 269-unit complex is home to an eclectic mix of LGBT residents, drag performers and families, and was known for its sordid reputation as a gay party hotspot in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The fire in building M erupted before 11 p.m. on Wednesday, quickly growing into a two-alarm fire that took 50 firefighters hours to extinguish, according to the AJC. The fire destroyed five units in the building, which houses 12 units. Damage will prevent any residents from returning to the building, the AJC reported.
The cause was ruled an accident. Via the AJC:
A fast-moving fire that displaced about 40 residents near Ansley Mall started when a cigarette wasn’t properly disposed, an Atlanta fire spokesman said.
The fire moved quickly through the building, according to CBS 46.
The blaze broke out on the third floor in one of the buildings and quickly spread to the roof of the structure.
“The fire was already through the roof upon our arrival,” says Atlanta Fire Department Captain Cortez Stafford. “People were still in the building evacuating. There were people knocking on people's doors telling them to get out.”
Fire officials said that neighbors were quick to take action as the fire started – efforts that likely saved saves, according to Fox. 5.
Some residents said when they realized what was happening they went door-to-door to make sure everyone in the affected building got out safely, including at least one elderly resident. One resident went to a nearby store and purchased water and snacks for the displaced residents and firefighters.
A massive renovation of the sprawling complex wrapped up in 2015, transforming the 54-year-old complex as the project reworked the interiors of the apartments as well as the exteriors of the buildings. Via Atlanta Intown:
“The complex appeared frozen in time. While the surrounding neighborhood has practically exploded with office, retail and multi-family development, Ansley Forest sat unchanged for decades. Because of this, the complex presented both positives and negatives in terms of re-design, and the owners wisely decided on a renovation rather than tearing down the buildings and starting over.”
[photo via William Turk]