‘It looks like a bomb went off’ 100-year-old homes destroyed in hours-long fire

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A downtown Savannah neighborhood is banding together Sunday after a massive fire displaced 17 people, according to Savannah Fire Rescue.

Witnesses say it started with a loud boom Saturday afternoon on the 300 block of West Waldburg Street. Fire then burst from an air conditioning unit.

People who live nearby think a propane tank exploded. Firefighters have not determined an official cause.

Savannah Fire says nobody was hurt during the fire. Many people were not home when it started. People who were home were able to get out before the fire got worse. 

After the explosion, thick smoke closed nearby roads and fire damaged five homes.  Other homes sustained water and smoke damage. Savannah Fire Rescue worked through the night to get everything under control. 

“It just went from one house to another house,” said John Davis. His house — that he shares with his wife, Jennifer — was damaged by water and smoke. “Neighbors were distraught. The neighbors have nothing,” he said. 

Most of the homes — including Davis’ — are filled with history and are nearly 150 years old. 

“If the wind was going [another] way, [firefighters] couldn’t have controlled it. It would have taken more structures out,” said Davis. 

The back of the homes sustained the most damage during the fire. Davis says the back alley looks like a bomb went off. 

People who lived in the homes with the most damage were too emotional to talk to News 3 on camera. They are the ones who lost everything when the fire got hot enough to burn metal, windows and a car. 

“They’ve probably had some real great stuff happen here,” said Davis. “Some great families and some great history.” 

Davis says the pieces of history that did not go up in flames will be restored.

“We haven’t had this. Usually, we’re having Christmas parties,” said Davis. “I want to build back Savannah. I never want to get rid of something like this. We love living downtown.”

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