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2 arrested after massive apartment fire in northeast Atlanta, police say

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2 arrested after massive apartment fire in northeast Atlanta, police say

The Reserve at LaVista Walk was evacuated late Friday night and early Saturday morning as an aggressive fire swallowed the roof and upper floors.(WANF)

By Hope Dean, Atlanta News First

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) — A massive apartment fire burned for hours near the LaVista Park neighborhood, leaving residents standing outside in the rain and cold Saturday morning.

Officers were called to the Reserve at LaVista Walk off LaVista Road after 10:30 p.m. Friday night, according to the Atlanta Police Department. The blaze started on the roof, possibly due to fireworks being set off, police believe.

The American Red Cross said 28 people were displaced, with major damage to the apartment complex’s upper floors. Seventeen people were treated for smoke inhalation and other non-life-threatening injuries, the fire department added. One cat also died.

Atlanta police arrested one man and one woman in connection to the incident, the fire department said. Robert Stokes and Charnelle Gunn face charges of first-degree criminal damage to property and reckless conduct.

LaVista Road NE from Cheshire Bridge NE to Citadel Drive NE and Cheshire Bridge Road NE from Lindbergh St NE to Alco Street NE remains closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department said.

According to Battalion Chief Shawn Manns, the building’s sprinkler system worked but “didn’t do any good” because the fire started on the roof. Inspectors are now working to contact the owner of the building, who will make arrangements to tear the complex down.

In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said city officials working to help those displaced. He added that the Red Cross is also housing about 20 families at the Central Park Recreation Center.

“My thoughts remain with the families and the City will continue to find additional ways to support their road to recovery,” he said.

Resident Sal Hameed said the apartment complex’s fire alarms constantly go off for what seems like no reason. He almost didn’t take them seriously, he told Atlanta News First.

“But then when we saw 10 fire trucks pull up, we knew something was wrong,” he said.

Atlanta police said one of their officers lived at the complex. He was working when the fire broke out, but he returned to the apartments to help people evacuate.

He lost everything, including his cat, according to police.

“The department is working to help support the officer during this time,” police said.

Decaturish media partner Atlanta News First provided this story.