Raleigh apartments catch fire

June 25, 2009 9:44:17 AM PDT
According to authorities, someone called 911 at 4:46 a.m. Thursday to report a fire on Shandra Dr. at the Woods of North Bend Apartment Homes. Investigators determined the fire was started accidentally.

"The fire has been determined to be an accidental fire cause due to improperly discarded smoking material at the entrance to the laundry room of the building," said Lt. A.S. Perry, fire investigator for the City of Raleigh Fire Department.

The fire was contained to a 16-unit section of one of the buildings, but it caused significant fire and some smoke damage to the building where it started.

The complex is located off of Spring Forest Road between Falls of Neuse and Six Forks roads.

According to City of Raleigh Fire Department Chief James Poole, someone saw fire in the laundry room, woke up a resident and called 911.

A firewall prevented the blaze from spreading to an adjacent building.

"Looks like the firewall held, so we're only looking at four, maybe eight apartments involved," Poole said. "The firewall did what it was designed to do. It kept it [the fire] from spreading to other apartments."

While the fire was contained, firefighters were able to evacuate everyone from the building.

Most of the residents in the building where the fire began loss personal property.

One resident said she fled her apartment with one item -- her mother's ashes.

"I didn't even think about anything else -- just grabbed her cause that's my, the way I get through life," Brittany Brown told Eyewitness News. "I'm able to talk to her, just soothe myself. And this is exactly a situation where I have her with me."

She and her boyfriend also were able to get their two dogs out safely. Despite the heavy smoke and soot, the couple may be able to salvage some items.

Another couple told Eyewitness News how they escaped the burning building.

"I looked and there was fire coming outside there -- that's the laundry room -- the whole front side of it, and the fire was just coming out," resident Kyle Wilson explained.

Wilson and his girlfriend were displaced from their unit, which was badly damaged.

"I got my girlfriend," he said. "I told her, 'Baby, we need to get out of here, the place is on fire.'"

The couple was able to grab some personal items and get out.

"She even got to grab her laptop and stuff, but the main concern -- she wanted to grab the TV too, but I said the main concern is we need to get out of here, we can deal with that later," Wilson said. "That's replaceable, but we need to survive."

Wilson said they escaped safely because they did what they had been taught to do.

"I think I'm okay," Wilson said. "I followed the standard rule where you take and you cover up."

Another resident whose apartment was completely destroyed said she was not home when the fire started. She decided to spend the night at her mother's house and awoke this morning to the news coverage on TV.

Jennifer Diggs told Eyewitness News if she had of been home, she would have been asleep when the fire started.

But like most of the North Bend residents, she is grateful the complex requires renters to have insurance.


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