By Brian Livingston
An apartment fire and a separate house blaze early Wednesday morning didn't result in any injuries or deaths but they did leave five families without a place to stay.
"It is a lot easier on everyone when you only have to try to salvage clothes and other material things rather than pull out victims," said T. A. Griffin, a fire inspector for the Meridian Fire Department.
At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, several crews with the Meridian Fire Department were called to the 4600 block of Fifth Street to a report of a large structure fire. When firefighters arrived they found an older wood frame home that contained four apartments engulfed in flames.
All of the family members living in the apartments were able to escape without injury.
Firefighters aggressively attacked on the blaze and were able to save the majority of the structure. Two of the four apartments suffered extensive fire damage while there was heavy smoke, water and some fire damage to the other two apartments.
Griffin, along with fellow MFD fire inspector Albert L. Emerson, Jr., were on the scene later Wednesday morning to try and determine the cause of the blaze. Griffin said it was easy to see in which apartment the fire started but that determining the cause would be much more labor intensive.
"You can see by the burn marks coming from the lower left apartment that it began there," Griffin said while pointing to a large black streak coming from the doorway of the apartment. "Now we have to dig to try and figure out how the fire started."
Griffin said the resident of the apartment in which the fire began couldn't help in identifying the cause.
According to Martha Duvall, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross of the East Central Mississippi Chapter, Red Cross caseworkers are meeting with three of the four affected families today and providing food, clothing and comfort kits. Caseworkers will meet with the fourth family, who was not at home at the time of the fire, once they return and help them identify individual needs and provide services.
At about 7 a.m. Wednesday, volunteer firefighters with Causeyville, Vimville, and Whynot stations were called to a house fire in the 800 block of Harper Road. When firefighters arrived on the scene they found the southern end of the home in flames. Firefighters were able to knock down the flames and keep the blaze from engulfing the rest of the home. The center and eastern end of the home, however, did suffer extensive smoke and water damage.
Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department authorities said the family was away on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at the time of the incident. No one was injured during the fire.
An investigation to determine the cause of the blaze is underway.