COLUMBUS, Ga. – Several Columbus residents are mapping out their next steps, as they wonder where to go after a fire burned a significant portion of their apartment complex. The fire broke out around 7:45 p.m. Sunday in unit A-12 at the Sherwood Arms Apartments, located on Baker Plaza Drive. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
However, less than a day after the fire, residents say there’s cause for concern. Many want answers from the apartment complex’s management. Police lights and fire trucks littered the entrance to the complex Sunday night for hours. Six of 20 units suffered significant damage, according to Columbus Fire Chief Ricky Shores.
Deitrice Dare and dozens of others at Sherwood Arms are left without access to their homes and their belongings.
“At this point, we’re homeless,” Dare said. “When I got outside the door, all I saw was flames everywhere, fire, smoke, black smoke. [The fire] tore the whole roof off. I probably have about five feet of water in my house.”
Now, the affected residents must brave cold conditions, not knowing when they will be able to return home.
“A lot of people are outside in the cold with no clothes,” Dare said. “I have nothing.”
Kerby Marshall believes paying rent entitles him and others to receive help courtesy of the apartment management.
“They need to put us in a hotel for a couple of days,” Marshall said. “We paid our rent money. We need to be somewhere where we can stay until they get these apartments back.”
News 3 spoke with management, who declined to go on camera. They said they won’t get access to the building until Columbus Fire officials are finished with their investigation. The impacted units are currently blocked off with red and yellow caution tape. The following is a statement from the apartment complex management:
Last night, at approx. 7:45 pm, the residents of the A bldg. of Sherwood Arms Apts. suffered through a fire throughout the building. The Red Cross was called immediately to help the displaced residents. The fire dept. stayed on property throughout the night inspecting the cause of the fire. All residents affected from the fire received assistance from the Red Cross. Two families stayed a shelter they provided, while the others stayed with friends or family. Sherwood Arms has security patrolling the affected building along with assistance from The Columbus Police Department. At this time, maintenance has secured all entries into the affected units. We are working diligently to place the families in other units within our complex. We care about our residents here and we are going to see them through this tragic time.”– Sherwood Arms Apartments
“They can’t release the apartments,” Dare said about management. “They have to check every apartment to see if we’re able to go in to get any personal items.”
Sherwood Arms also moved some tenants in the units directly affected to vacant units in the interim. Deitrice Dare is just grateful to sleep on a friend’s couch.
“Material things can be replaced,” Dare explained. “But a life can’t. I’m blessed. I’m still here walking and talking, and in the midst of every bad thing, there is a good thing.”
No injuries were reported in the fire. The Red Cross offered assistance, but there is still a long road to recovery. Management expects to let residents back into their homes later this week. This was the first fire at Sherwood Arms Apartments in its 43-year history.
A lot of people said they would be in a much better possession had they purchased renter’s insurance. For more information about fire safety tips, click here. Fore more information about the importance of renter’s insurance, click here.