Cherokee County

‘Everything went completely dark:’ Cherokee Co. families describe escaping massive apartment fire

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News expects to learn how and where a fire started that forced families out of their homes Sunday near Woodstock.

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Cherokee County Fire Department said the fire alarms went off before 11:00 am Sunday at the Brooke Mill Apartments near Highway 92.

“I gathered a couple of things to try to get them out of the apartment. I had all my kids’ school supplies. So, I grabbed those,” said Kevin Hannan.

Hannan said he’d just dropped his children off at church when it happened. He said a neighbor ran down the hallway, banging on doors, warning people of the fire.

“I looked out the window, and there was burning debris falling down outside my window,” said Hannan. “Everything went completely dark because of all the smoke and everything. I couldn’t see anything. The entire apartment was black inside.”

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When firefighters arrived, they said smoke and flames were shooting through the roof and top-floor apartments. Firefighters started fighting the flames while some went inside to check for people and pets.

Capt. Michael Sims said everyone escaped, but firefighters had to save some people’s pets. He said it appears at least 30 apartment units were damaged or destroyed.

“The health and safety chief is going in to determine what areas of the structure are safe for our firefighters to go back into to try to get those emergency medications, belongings, check for other animals,” said Capt. Sims.

The Red Cross showed up to help people with shelter and emergency items to get them through the start of the work week.

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“They’re going to look around for other apartment complexes in the area to try to get people set up on an emergency basis,” said Hannan.

Hannan is checking his insurance to see if that can help. At the same time, he’s trying to maintain some normalcy for his family. He said the biggest concern now is the unknown.

“I don’t know whether there’s anything left of my apartment. I’ve got medications that I’m going to need,” said Hannan. “My son is special needs, and he was asking me,“Well, where are we going to live?” All I could do (was) tell him, right now, I’m not sure. We will wait and see. We’ll just take it one day at a time.”

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