Rolling Oaks Apartments fire declared accidental

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CFD utilized two engines, a ladder truck, a rescue truck and 16 firefighters to battle the blaze, while help also arrived from Thorsby Fire Department, and Clanton Police officers blocked off surrounding roadways to allow the firefighters to work unimpeded.

“That was the biggest fire I’ve been on since I’ve been fire chief in Clanton,” Driver said.

Driver said firefighters first responding to the scene weren’t sure that all the residents were out of the apartments and thus began searching some of the units.

“It’s hard to account for everyone when you initially get there,” he said. “We weren’t able to search every apartment—the upper level was already too far gone—but we did search the lower-level apartments.

“Eventually, I had to order everyone out because the conditions were deteriorating so quickly.”

Officials were able to use a list of tenants provided by Wilkins to make sure no residents were still inside the burning building.

“It was unfortunate that people lost their belongings, but at the same time, we’re fortunate that no one was seriously hurt,” Driver said.

Driver said the investigation determined the fire started at a stove in a lower-level apartment.

Wilkins said what remains of the building, which was built in the 1970s, will have to be torn down. First, a fence will have to be erected around the structure to keep people out of harm’s way.