SAVANNAH, Ga. – Roman Payman works nights and was asleep Sunday afternoon when he heard his wife screaming after a knock on the door. Their apartment building was in flames and they had literally minutes to get out. “I grabbed a back pack with documents inside that I always keep for emergencies but not much else,” he told me. Payman, his wife who is six months pregnant and his one year old son are left with nothing.
The fire happened at the Preston Grove Apartments and reportedly started from a cigarette left smoldering on a balcony. Payman had no renters insurance saying he came from California recently and had been here just five months. “I wasn’t aware we needed it,” he said.
The apartment management says there is already an outpouring of support for 22 families who have lost all of their possessions.
Management will put out a list of items and clothing needed in s few days. Meanwhile, it is suggested that anyone who wants to help provide gift cards to grocery stores and clothing stores it places like Walmart and Target so families can buy items they need.
In terms of how the fire started, Southside Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Noha said “we were told by one of the residents that they were unsure they had put a cigarette out.”
Noha says when a fire was discovered on the balcony of one apartment, a man and his roommate apparently tried to put the fire out themselves .”When we arrived on scene we were there within 3 minutes of the call and a third of the attic space of that whole building was involved,” he said.
Payman told me he didn’t have renters insurance, having just moved in a few months ago. But he says he’s lost thousands in terms of his belongings. “”Furniture and TV, electronics, two iPads two laptops,’ he told me. “You work for a long time you make a home you buy all that stuff and you lose it in two minutes.”
Assistant Chief Noha told us that it’s never a good idea to try and put out a fire yourself, especially in a multi-unit dwelling. “I know it seems like they’re tryiing to help but it really hinders the process beause time is of the essence,” he said. “Minutes count, get us in route
and if we get there and you’ve put it out and you felt safe enough to put it out and you were able to pput it out that’s a great thing, but I would rather that we get there and you don’t need us than need us and not have us.”