Fire claims life of three Quail Run Apartment residents
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A Monday afternoon fire at Quail Run Apartments has left nine families homeless and one family dead.
Morgan County Coroner Russ Beard said the three victims' names will be released pending family notification.
Rescue workers attempted to search the victims' upstairs apartment when it was determined that the occupants were unaccounted for.
The victims, two adults-male and female-and a child, were later found dead in a bathroom.
Although autopsies are being performed, the apparent cause of death was smoke inhalation.
No other residents were injured in the blaze.
According to Hartselle Fire Chief Rickey Joe Smith, E911 received the first report of the apartment fire shortly before 4 p.m.
"By then, smoke could be seen from at least 2 miles away," Smith said. "It was already a well involved fire when the call came in."
Fire and rescue units from Decatur, Falkville, Flint and Oak Ridge also responded to the call.
Smith said the Decatur Fire/Rescue aerial ladder truck was a great asset in containing the fire that engulfed the two-story, 12 apartment Building C.
"We could have handled it without an aerial device, but not as effectively as it has been handled," Smith said.
The top floor of the building, where the fire is believed to have begun, was completely destroyed. The bottom floor sustained heavy smoke and water damage. A full investigation is being conducted by Alabama Fire Marshals to determine the cause of the fire.
Smith said it took approximately 15 minutes for the Decatur Fire/Rescue aerial device ladder truck to arrive at the scene.
"I was in a rear building when I saw fire blazing from the top," Quail Run Property Manager Rickey Dye of Sunbelt Management said. "I ran out and we started clearing people out as fast as we could."
Dye said two of the 12 apartments of Building C were unoccupied.
"The residents will eventually be relocated into other apartments," Dye said "But for now, they will probably have to depend on friends and family for a place to stay."
The Morgan-Lawrence County Red Cross, through the Disaster Relief Fund, is offering food, shelter and counseling assistance to the displaced families.
Neighboring Quail Run residents also offered assistance to the 50-75 firefighters and rescue workers suffering from heat exhaustion.
"I'm pouring water and taking it to all of the firefighters," Quail Run resident Allen Lewter, 14, said during the blaze. "I just wanted to do something to help."
Other residents brought pitchers of cold water and buckets of ice from their refrigerators and freezers outside for rescue workers to relieve the heat of the fire and the 90-degree day.
Several firefighters were treated on-site and at local hospitals for heat exhaustion.
To contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund for victims of the Quail Run Apartments fire, call the Morgan-Lawrence County Red Cross at 353-4891 or 1-800-257-7575.