1 year since fire displaced over 30 people on E. Duffy St.

1 year since fire displaced over 30 people on E. Duffy St.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s been one year since a fire raced through several housing units on East Duffy Street causing major damage.

Those units are operated by the Economic Opportunity Authority.

“I turn around and flames were shooting up through the roof and I’m like Lord help us,” said resident Daniel Green.

Daniel Green was one of the 34 people displaced by a fire at this building last year. He has lived there off and on for about five years.

“That’s 657. I lived in 657D.”

He says he remembers going outside and seeing the flames and what it looked like after the fire was out.

“You could see through the roof. Look in Alan’s room across the hall and it looks like someone put a skylight in.”

City of Savannah Code Enforcement condemned five of the housing units. The Economic Opportunity Authority’s Interim Executive Director says they were able to use their own funds to pay for hotel rooms and relocate residents.

Now, many have moved back in but some living areas are still in the demolition phase.

“We are waiting on some miracle to say the least that will allow us to build like we had before,” said Terry Tolbert, Interim Executive Director of The Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County.

The Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building is owned by the Housing Authority of Savannah and the federal government.

Tolbert says it’s difficult to rebuild a building decades old like this one because of new standards.

He also says the city of Savannah and the Metropolitan Planning Commission can’t locate records needed, and they aren’t sure if there are any.

“The board may decide to build a different kind of way. We will make every attempt to provide housing for people who are very poor in our community,” said Tolbert.

Despite losing some of his possessions, Green says he’s thankful for his life and will never forget how the EOA was there when he needed them most.

“They stepped up and if I can ever do anything to repay them, I will,” said Green.

The Savannah Fire Department says that investigators “cannot rule out” an electrical issue as the cause of the East Duffy Street fire in April 2020.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.