The fire-ravaged The Reserve at Lavista Walk on Nov. 11. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

Residents of the fire-ravaged The Reserve at Lavista Walk have filed a class action lawsuit against the apartment complex’s owners.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the suit names Avenium Group and four defendants who owned and operated the complex.

The attorney representing the residents, Dean Doug, said The Reserve’s owner, Avenium, failed to repair a broken fire suppression system.

“They knew that they were out of code,” Dean said during a press conference on Nov. 18. “We intend to hold these people accountable.”

However, the AJC said that a December 2022 fire inspection report from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD) did not find the complex to be out of code.

The three-alarm fire was ignited by two people setting off fireworks on the roof of the four-story building on Nov. 10. AFRD Chief Rod Smith said the blaze was “a complete anomaly” since it started on the roof, which might have delayed the alarm and sprinkler system.

But Dean said The Reserve had issues with its fire suppression system, including broken control valves and corroded sprinkler heads. He also said the fire could have been avoided if Aveniun had not allowed access to the roof.

Dean claimed that the company knew residents, including children, were accessing the roof.

Robert Stokes, 42, and Charnelle Gunn, 24, were arrested the night of the blaze and face charges of criminal damage to property and reckless conduct.

Parts of Lavista and Cheshire Bridge roads remained closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic Saturday, and there is no access to the buildings and parking garage at the complex due to the possibility of structure collapse.

GoFundMe reported Friday that more than $140,000 had been donated to residents who have fundraisers on the site. Many residents, who had to quickly evacuate the building, lost everything.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.