Fire Races Through Raintree Apartments - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/12/02

Fire Races Through Raintree Apartments

Biloxi firemen pulled up to the burning Raintree Apartment complex and grabbed ladders. They had to get people off second floor balconies before the early morning fire spread.

Only one person had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. And only four apartments at the Eisenhower Drive complex had fire or smoke damage.

Ben Mokrane was in one of those damaged apartments. "I was asleep on the sofa," Mokrane said, pointing to the sofa next to his balcony. Mokrane said he got up because he heard sirens blaring, and his neighbor yelling. "I looked through my window and there was fire lighting up my chairs," said Mokrane. "I told my wife get up. We've got to get out of here. There's fire out here."

Mokrane's second floor apartment suffered minor smoke damage. Downstairs, apartment 35 wasn't as lucky. Apartment manager Jamillah Gardner walked into the charred apartment and said, "As you can see, there is a lot of damage here."

It was Gardner's first day on the job. Dealing with the aftermath of a fire was not how she expected the day to start. "It's sad," Gardner said, looking at the bedroom where the fire may have started. "And these people, we have to transfer them into another unit until we know exactly how the fire was started."

The balcony right above apartment 35 shows you just how hot and how dangerous this fire was. An ice chest was on the balcony. It was burned so badly, it wasn't recognizable. There was even more damage next to the cooler. Two chairs literally melted into the balcony's floor.

"It was terrible man," said Mokrane. "We almost died."

According to the apartment manager, none of the tenants who had fire damage owned renters insurance.

by Brad Kessie

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