Raleigh residents remember devastating fire

RALEIGH The blaze damaged or destroyed nearly 40 homes in the Pine Knoll Townes community on Oneonta Avenue.

The fire was caused by a discarded cigarette tossed into pine straw and a strong wind helped spread the flames.

Fire victim Gene Johnson says he can't forget that day.

"It looked like a bomb had gone off," Johnson said.

About 150 firefighters and six ladder trucks battled 120 foot high flames as the fire ripped through the subdivision.

The fire destroyed 30 homes, damaged a handful of others and displaced more than 70 people. It left hardly any land unscathed.

Now, two years later, it is a different picture.

"The neighborhood doesn't look like it was in a fire," Johnson said. "Other than cracked concrete there is nothing that says there was a fire here."

It looks like nothing happened, but to residents memories of that day are still fresh.

"You're always talking about, it's usually a conversation piece especially this time of the year," Johnson said. "It was the fire that really drew the community together. We have a lot more friendships in and around us now than we ever did before."

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