A late-night fire at Avalon Apartments in west Starkville has destroyed 12 apartment units and displaced 18 residents, according to Starkville Fire Chief Charles Yarbrough.
Yarbrough said his department received a call about the blaze, in building O, at 11:58 p.m. Thursday.
“By the time our first unit arrived on scene, the top half was fully-involved,” Yarbrough said. “The fire moved really quickly from one apartment to the next.”
Firefighters remained on scene until about 5:45 a.m. and returned later Friday morning to check the building for hot spots.
Yarbrough said eight people were missing when firefighters arrived, and responders initially feared they might have been trapped in the building. However, he said everyone was accounted for by 1 a.m.
One resident suffered burns on his back and hands, Yarbrough said, and two people jumped from a second-floor apartment and were taken to OCH Regional Medical Center with leg injuries.
Yarbrough said no fatalities were reported with the fire, thanks in part to citizens who helped get people out.
“There were two brothers and a roommate going around knocking on people’s doors,” he said. “A volunteer firefighter, him and his wife were on the bypass and saw the fire. They went and actually helped got a vision-impaired woman out of her apartment. If it wasn’t for them, there would have been a loss of life for sure.
“Within three minutes, there probably would have been several people who were trapped and couldn’t get out,” he added.
He also thanked Starkville Police Department for its assistance in getting people out of the apartments.
Yarbrough said SFD has narrowed the possible starting point of the fire down two a few apartment units and will continue its investigation today.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.