Albany Heights residents displaced by arson

Photo Credit: Melanie Kendall

Albany Heights senior apartment residents were woken up by fire crews just after midnight Tuesday night and told to evacuate.

Following a string of small trash can arson fires throughout the senior apartment building Tuesday evening, someone set lobby furniture on fire which caused the sprinkler system to kick on.

"When they knocked on the door, I realized it was a fire and then that's kind of confusing because you didn't prepare for this when you went to bed but it could be worse, that's how I look at it," said Bessie Simmons, three-year resident of the Albany Heights building.

The sprinklers put the fire out with no major damage to the five-floor building but 35 residents, some physically disabled, were evacuated as a precaution until the sprinkler system could be reset and put back in working order.

Residents were taken to the nearby Dougherty County Court House then bused to the Civic Center for the remainder of the night because of the near freezing temperature.

The evacuation process was a group effort by the Albany Police Department, Albany Fire Department, Dougherty County School System and Civic Center. The Red Cross provided breakfast to residents at the Civic Center Wednesday morning.

The arson fires remain under investigation.

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