by: Aaron Diamant Updated:EAST POINT, Ga.,None —
Fire investigators still don't know what caused a devastating fire at an East Point apartment complex Friday afternoon, but do know why several fire hydrants inside the complex didn't work.
As fire consumed the Colony at Camp Creek Apartments, Belice Buckner grabbed her kids and got out.
"Everybody was in shock," recalled Buckner. "Everybody was crying, because their whole life is burning up."
Residents who spoke to Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant on Monday said they were even more shocked to learn nearby hydrants didn't put out enough water.
"All of a sudden, the water just stopped," Buckner said. "[Firefighters] didn't have any water."
Resident Chrishana Solomon told Diamant she and her neighbors looked on as firefighters scrambled.
"I seen that they was getting very frustrated, because they had to go all the way to Camp Creek just to try to get some water," Solomon said. "It's ridiculous when we got fire hydrants around here."
The malfunctioning hydrants caught the attention of State Fire
Marshal Dwayne Garriss.
"With today's furnishings, with plastics, and everything else that we have, things just burn a whole lot faster than they used to," warned Garriss.
Since the apartment complex's fire hydrants are on private property, the property manager is responsible for maintaining them.
"The first thing that I would want to know is, was the maintenance being handled on the system? Pull the records," Garriss said.
When Diamant stopped by the complex's leasing office Monday morning look at their records, he found it closed. His calls to the complex's managers were not returned.
Late Monday afternoon, the City of East Point sent Diamant a statement saying inspections before and after the fire found "the hydrants were and are in adequate condition...Plans to advise property management that they need to increase the capacity of their water pressure system to meet the fire load."
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Its little comfort for residents who lost everything.
"Get on your job," Buckner said. "That's all I can say. It was devastating."
Meanwhile, Garriss said firefighters in the area often run into pressure problems with hydrants on private property.
"It's not something that is uncommon," Garriss said. "It's something we don't like to see. We have had this happen before and unfortunately, we expect we're going to have it happen again."
Under Georgia law, property owners are supposed to conduct full pressure tests on their hydrant systems every three to five years. However, the fire marshal told Diamant his office is looking at ways to beef up regulations to cut down on cases like this.