‘Poor decision’ leaves Atlanta apartment fire victims homeless while crews continue to battle flames

ATLANTA — Victims of a massive apartment fire in northeast Atlanta are waiting for answers on what to do next after their homes were destroyed.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Reserve at LaVista Walk apartments on LaVista Road NE Friday night after flames and smoke came from the roof.

By Saturday at 8:30 p.m., firefighters had been working on the blaze for 22 hours.

Fire officials confirmed 28 are still displaced and are receiving help from the American Red Cross.

The flames started around 10:30 p.m. Friday after the Atlanta Police Department said two people were lighting fireworks on the complex’s roof. Officers arrested Charnelle Gunn and Robert Stokes, charging them both with reckless conduct and criminal property damage.

People who lived at the complex were stunned.

“November. Fireworks. Not a holiday,” said Myles Wilson.

“I live on the fourth floor,” said Kala Scott. “I heard a big bang.”

Channel 2 Action News Reporter Courtney Francisco showed their mug shots to those who live there.

“I do not know why they did it. I never see them in the building because I know almost all the people that live in the building, and I have never seen those people live right here,” said Kitxya Larumbe.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said one of these officers lived at the complex and lost all his belongings and cat.

“He and other officers started going floor to floor to make sure everyone was aware of the fire,” said Schierbaum.

People continued to stop throughout the night to see if the fire was still burning. Some, like Myles Wilson, were searching for a place to sleep. Others pointed out the two jailed for this have a roof and bed tonight, unlike them.

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“That was definitely a poor decision, them displacing all these people out of their homes now. It is a travesty. I mean, to say the least,” said Wilson.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city is working to ensure families affected by the apartment fire at the Reserve at LaVista Walk receive the support they need while trying to find new homes.

“Thanks to the swift response time, ongoing training and courage of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, there were no fatalities as a result of this massive fire at such a large multi-family complex,” said Dickens. “I commend AFRD Chief Rod Smith and his Department, APD, E911, Emergency Management personnel as well as the Department of Parks and Recreation and other agencies who worked throughout the night to open shelter for the displaced families and coordinated emergency supportive services for the days and weeks ahead.”


Red Cross has opened a shelter for those affected by the apartment fire at the Reserve at LaVista Walk on Lavista Road.

The shelter is located at 400 Merritts Avenue in Northeast Atlanta.

Drivers can expect road closures around the North Druid Hills community complex to remain in place while firefighters secure the damaged building.

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