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Community comes together to help each other after local apartment fire

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The community is helping one another out after that tragic apartment fire this week in South Columbus. The goal is to to help the 60 people who lost their homes in the fire.

“My first instinct was to get my dog, get my keys, my I-D and money and go,” said Tahjanay Banks, who’s good friends with one of the apartment fire victims.

Banks says she was 20 feet away from this building at Harmony Apartments on Oakley Court when the fire started Tuesday afternoon. She says after watching the building go up in flames...she immediately called her neighbors.

“My upstairs neighbor -- I called her. She was upstairs sleep and my downstairs neighbor -- he’s a older man so I made sure she got him out of the building,” said Banks.

Although not confirmed by the Columbus Fire Department, Banks says she believes the fire started after she heard thunder and saw the roof get struck by lightning.

“From the time that thunder happened until the time I looked at this building, this entire building was already smoked out. It was already on fire,” said Banks.

With 60 people losing their home as a result of the fire, activists like Susan Cooper, Founder of Community Impact and Empowerment Foundation, are stepping up to help out.

“My initial reaction was ‘we need to figure out how to help the people in this community to restore and recover those things that they lost.’ It’s a blessing that no one lost their lives,” said Cooper.

With that in mind, Cooper is reaching out to everyone who lost their apartment in the fire to determine which items they need the most right now.

“Once we discover what their most immediate need is, we’ll be helping with things like helping them to get to the resources that are available to them,” said Cooper.

A need at the top of the list is a place to stay.

“A lot of them are in hotels. We want to make sure that their temporary living arrangement is solid while we work on a permanent housing plan and transitioning them back into another apartment, a rental house or whatever their plan is,” said Cooper.

There will also be a Community Resource Meeting Held tomorrow at 1 p.m. where those displaced by this fire can come complete a needs assessment.

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