Search for cause of apartment fire continues, residents displaced

More than 50 residents are without a home after a fire Sunday night at an apartment complex.
March 26, 2014 4:45:54 AM PDT
Investigators are combing the rubble of a Raleigh apartment fire hoping to determine what sparked the blaze.

The fire happened late Sunday in a three-story building in the 600 block of Peyton Street.

? Click here for a Google map of the area. ?

Tuesday, workers rushed to board up burned-out windows while a crew of eight fire investigators worked inside to nail down a cause.

The entire 12-unit building has been deemed unsafe by the city. All 51 residents who lived there have been forced out.

Ronnie Jones is one of more than 40 residents that the Red Cross is helping with temporary housing. He's been put up at a motel on New Bern Avenue, but he still can't shake the memories of the fire.

"We took a couple of pair of pants, a couple shirts, change of underclothes," said Jones. "By the time we get outside, all I saw was black smoke, people in panic, and mayhem!"

The fire department said seven residents who were trapped inside by the flames jumped from the building's third floor.

Five children took the 30-foot plunge, including an infant child, who witnesses say hit the ground but survived with only minor injuries.

"When you think about the fall, luckily the ground was wet, and they were landing on grass, that obviously helped the fall," said Assistant Fire Chief Kendall Hocutt. "EMS transported all the patients, treated them as trauma."

Everyone made it out safely. But for residents like Jones, there's still worry about what comes next. He had no fire insurance.

There's no timetable on rebuilding the apartments, and the assistance from the Red Cross can only last so long.

"I'm grateful for the help, but it's a sad situation," said Jones. "Where you really don't know what you're going to do."

Raleigh fire investigators are very confident that the blaze began on the third floor.

Meantime, the Red Cross has 15 volunteers working on the case helping nearly every family find a place to stay.

The Salvation Army is stepping in to help as well by providing fire victims with grocery store gift cards, and clothing vouchers.

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