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Overnight fire rips through DeKalb apartment building, displacing more than 24

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Overnight fire rips through DeKalb apartment building, displacing more than 24

Photo provided by Atlanta News First

By Hope Dean and Don Shipman, Atlanta News First

DeKalb County, Ga. (Atlanta News First) — More than 24 people were forced from their homes overnight following a massive fire that destroyed a building inside a DeKalb County apartment complex early Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called to Villas at Decatur Apartments off Eastwyck Circle shortly after 3:30 a.m. Fire officials say eight apartments were destroyed. No one was hurt.

Kenneth Welborn lives nearby. He saw reports of the fire on the news, he said.

“This is terrible. Getting messed up in a situation like this right at Christmas,” said Welborn. “I wanted to see if I could help somebody. That’s who I am, I’m 72 years old, so I’ve got to do something.”

The fire started in one apartment, but then spread to the roofline, causing damage throughout the building. The roof partially collapsed in the middle as firefighters battled the flames.

“When it’s in the roofline like that, a lot of the structural integrity gets compromised, so you really don’t have any indication of stability. So, it’s more advantageous for us to extinguish it from the outside,” said Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Morrison with DeKalb County Fire.

This isn’t the first time a fire destroyed an apartment building in this complex. In May, several people were forced out of their homes when a fire ripped through six apartments. That building is still boarded up.

Carolyn Eberson, who lives next door, woke up to fire trucks parked out front. She says neighbors raced to help in the middle of the night.

“She looked out the window. There was nothing but red fire,” said Eberson. “He said that his daddy woke him up because he smelled smoke and got him out. After they got out, he went back in into the basement to get his dog.”

Firefighters are working to determine the cause of the fire. The American Red Cross is helping 24 people so far with immediate needs. A representative didn’t give an exact number, but said a few other residents impacted declined assistance.

Decaturish media partner Atlanta News First provided this story