GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A resident's attempt to cook a pizza sparked a two-story apartment fire and has left about 20 people without a home, Gwinnett fire crews said Saturday.
Firefighters were called to an apartment fire at Somerset at the Crossings just before 1:30 p.m. Fire engines set up post on the 400 block of Summerwalk Parkway NW in unincorporated Tucker to tackle the flames.
Heavy fire was found throughout the first and second apartments, extending to the attic on the left rear corner of the building, which housed eight units. Firefighters knocked out the flames and were able to get the fire under control in 20 minutes, according to Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services.
Firefighters said they found two cats dead on the first floor and learned two units were heavily damaged in the flames. The other six uniters sustained minor smoke or water damage, crews said. No other injuries were reported.
In their investigation, firefighters determined the flames were sparked in a unit's kitchen "from the improper use of a cooking appliance." Fire officials said the occupants of the apartment said there were three people home and one of them had recently "cooked a pizza in a toaster over the kitchen countertop." When the meal started smoking, the residents tried to extinguish the fire but couldn't put it out and evacuated, fire officials said. Smoke alarms in the heavily damaged units were not working at the time of the fire, GCFES said.
PHOTOS | Apartment fire near Tucker
The Red Cross stepped in to help provide temporary assistance to those displaced. About 20 residents, including 14 adults and six children were temporarily forced out of their homes, Gwinnett County Fire said. Apartment management was working to help tenants relocate or restore utilities to the minimally affected portion of the building.
"Firefighters encourage all citizens to practice home fire safety. Be sure to install working smoke alarms on every level of the home and in each bedroom. Develop a home escape plan and practice fire drills regularly," officials said in a release.