-Athens, GA Homeless people who live under the North Avenue Bridge are recovering from a fire that damaged the one place they call home.

Emergency Response teams responded to a fire under a bridge on North Avenue late Tuesday night.

“This is where the fire started, right here. It started right here and worked itself down and spread,” says one homeless bridge residence.

The bridge is home to at least 8 homeless who say they almost lost their lives when one of resident decided to torch the place.

If you look around you’ll see that just about everything is gone. There’s burnt mattresses burnt chairs. These people say that they have lost everything from social security cards to photo albums

The fire started after an argument with the woman’s boyfriend.

“I seen Rayeanne come in there’s a cigerette lighter in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Fire started popping and it started spreading real fast and I couldn’t do nothing but holler for them because of that gas line right there. That’s a gas line right there on their head. You had to get them out of there quick because if I hadn’t got them out of there quick they all would have been dead,” says bridge resident.

Carole Rayeanne Childers-Queens was arrested and charged with first degree arson and first degree criminal damage. Fellow residences are upset that she is not being charged with attempted murder because the fire caused a gas main under the bridge to leak which could have had a more devastating consequence.

Jerry Oberholtzer, Athens Clarke County Engineering Administrator says, “If there had been a spark right at that source of fuel it would have almost been like a blow torch, which would have basically caught the concrete on fire and heated up the girders enough to have the fail.”

The homeless are asking for bleach to clean up the soot and volunteers to haul away debris.

-Jeffrey McNair Grady Newsource

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