Raleigh apartment fire displaces residents

March 31, 2008 10:53:48 AM PDT
Drive past Trestles Apartments and you can't miss the blackened, burned furniture sitting on the wet grass, or the burned out second floor of apartments.

The fire that caused the damage set off smoke alarms at about 5 a.m. Sunday at the Bay Ridge Crossing in the Trestles Apartment Complex. The sound got resident Nas Aranda's attention.

"I went around and started banging on everybody's door, telling them to get out," he told Eyewitness News. " I had to run around, like three times, before everybody responded."

No one was hurt, but eight second floor apartments were destroyed. At least 10 people who lived there are displaced--including Michelle Burger and her boyfriend Kirk Duncan.

She smiled at Aranda as she said, "I was awakened, luckily, by my neighbor, this good Samaritan! We just heard knocking and screaming, and when I looked through my bedroom window I just saw people running!"

Burger and Nelson run track for St. Augustine's College. Maybe their training helped them get out of the now gutted second floor apartment in time. But they had to leave most of their possessions behind.

"Actually," said Burger, holding up a wallet, checkbook and keys, " we went back and got these after, so that's good!"

They'll get help from the Red Cross with shelter and replacement clothing.

They're not happy to hear what caused the fire. Raleigh Fires Department division chief Rusty Styons told us, "it was an accidental fire, involving unattended cooking."

He confirms a pot left on a hot stove is the likely cause.

"Someone's negligence caused this!" said Burger. Duncan asked, "were they asleep? I don't know, when they left the pot on the fire? That's crazy!"

It took less than an hour to stop the fire, but tenants like Duncan and Burger will live with its effects will long after authorities clean up the scene.


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