A Duluth family narrowly escaped an early morning fire Sunday that ravaged their top floor second-story apartment at the Madison at Breckinridge Apartments by jumping from the balcony.
A man and his fiancé jumped from the second floor balcony of the burning apartment after discovering they and their infant daughter could not safely exit out the front door, Gwinnett Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge reported. The man went over first and the woman lowered the child before jumping herself. An adult male cousin in a separate bedroom was able to escape out the front door. They were not injured.
The family was asleep at the time and was awakened by the smoke alarm, according to Rutledge. "This is a prime example of why working smoke alarms are so important," Rutledge said. The family was also aided by the fact that their balcony was located on the second-story side and not the third-story part of the building, he said. The Madison at Breckinridge Apartments is located at 3450 Breckinridge Blvd. in unincorporated Duluth.
The fire was reported about 2:06 a.m. Sunday, April 1, with firefighters arriving at 2:10 a.m. Rutledge reported the fire was contolled at 2:45 a.m.
Firefighters found heavy smoke and flames showing from the apartment unit on the right-side of the building on arrival, Rutledge reported. Police officers were already going door-to-door to evacuate the building when the fire department arrived. Crews quickly deployed fire lines and made an aggressive interior attack on the fire. The quick actions of the firefighters kept the fire from spreading throughout the rest of the building, he said.
The blaze caused heavy damage to one apartment unit and minor fire damage to two other units, Rutledge said. The fire appears accidental/unintentional and originated from a pan of grease on the stove. The grease was believed to have been left warming unattended, he said.
The fire damaged three apartments in the 15-unit 2/3-story split complex. Besides the one unit with heavy fire damage, two units suffered minor smoke and water damage, Rutledge reported.
The Red Cross was asked to assist approximately 12 people (eight adults and four children) displaced by the fire in the three affected units, Rutledge said. All other occupants of the building were allowed to return to their apartments once the situation was controlled.
This is an older apartment building and is not equipped with residential fire sprinklers, he said.