10 apartments lost to fire at The Landings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Firefighters from the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department work to extinguish the New Year’s Day fire that engulfed a 10-unit apartment building at The Landings on Fairways Drive Tuesday.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN

[01/02/02]Residents of 10 apartments in a large Warren County complex lost their homes Tuesday when a New Year’s Day fire destroyed nearly all of the building.

“Four of the apartments were pretty much gone before we got on the scene,” said Kelly Worthy at The Landings, 501 Fairways Drive. One resident had a cut hand, but there were no reports of other injuries.

Worthy is coordinator of county volunteer fire departments, and firefighters from across the county responded with the Culkin and Northeast departments around 12:30 p.m.

A cold wind fanned the flames through the three-story, wood-frame building with aluminum siding.

All 10 units in the building that burned were occupied, but some tenants were reported away for the holidays.

Lillian Mitchell, who lived on the bottom floor near the front of the building, said that by the time a neighbor knocked on her door, flames had already engulfed most of the complex.

“When I went to find a coat, smoke was starting to some in my apartment,” Mitchell said. “By the time I got out the whole roof was on fire.”

The complex, built in 1996, is one of the area’s most luxurious. It is on a tract of land dotted with lakes east of Oak Ridge Road and northeast of Openwood Plantation and Fairways subdivisions.

Mitchell said she had been waiting on a daughter-in-law and granddaughter who were coming for lunch when the fire started. She said that her daughter-in-law first saw the black, bellowing smoke from Indiana Avenue, nearly 10 miles away in Vicksburg.

“Everything is probably gone,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, other residents and neighbors could only stand around or wait in cars to stay warm while they watched as much of the structure collapsed. Worthy said that volunteer firefighters were able to save four apartments, but that the building would probably be structurally beyond repair.

“Those four have water damage, but little damage from smoke,” Worthy said.

Volunteer firefighters who were working on hot spots through the night also helped residents move out what belongings had been spared.

A resident told firefighters that the blaze began near the back of the building on the bottom floor, Worthy said, but the cause was still unknown. Investigators were on the scene.

The Landings Apartments has 12 buildings in all. None of the others was damaged in the fire, but some of the grounds were scorched before firefighters arrived. Residents were busy, first watching and then offering coats, blankets and other assistance to those who lost their homes and property.

Harrah’s Casino and Hotel and Ameristar Casino both have offered rooms for displaced residents.