Rolling Oaks Apartments fire declared accidentalBy Stephen Dawkins Published 6:10pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Nine people were left to wonder where they would sleep and what they would wear, among other concerns, after a fire Tuesday destroyed a Clanton apartment building.
Clanton Fire Chief David Driver said the blaze that claimed Building 6B at Rolling Oaks Apartments has been ruled accidental after an investigation by Clanton Fire Marshal Cameron Bates and a deputy state fire marshal, but that will likely be little consolation to those who lost their homes and belongings.
Jerry Wilkins, manager of the apartment complex located at 700 8th St. N., said none of the residents held renter’s insurance policies that he knew of.
“People who ran out of their apartments without shoes, they don’t have shoes anymore,” Wilkins said.
One non-life threatening injury was reported on the scene, as a resident was hurt while jumping from his second-floor balcony to escape the flames. The victim was treated and released on the scene.
Seven of the eight apartment units in the building were occupied at the time of the fire, though not everyone was at home during the incident.
Wilkins said the response of the community has been “remarkable” as groups including the Emergency Assistance Center, Grace Fellowship Church, Through the Grace of God Ministries, the American Red Cross and others have offered help.
“It’s amazing how many groups and people have called,” Wilkins said.
The EAC is coordinating efforts to relieve those affected by the fire. Wilkins said the residents’ greatest need is clothes, not food.
There were no children living in the apartment building, so only adult clothing is needed.
Those interested in donating should call the EAC at 755-9467.
Wilkins said he immediately contacted all the residents, on behalf of Rolling Oaks, to give them back their security deposit and first month’s rent, so that they could quickly find alternate living arrangements.
“We’re doing our best to get some cash back in those people’s pockets,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he thought all the displaced residents were able to find somewhere to stay temporarily, whether it be with friends elsewhere at the complex or at a hotel room provided by an employer.
Chilton County 911 dispatched the call at 4:51 p.m., and the fire was reported as being under control at 6:17 p.m.
Though Clanton Fire Department was on the scene within 2 minutes of receiving the call, Driver said, there was little firefighters could do to save the building, as he estimated about 75 percent of the second floor of the building was already ablaze.
“It was already blowing out both ends of the breezeway by the time we got here,” Driver said.