Woman jumps from balcony to escape fire that killed grandmother, granddaughter

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three people narrowly escaped and are left to mourn the loss of their loved ones when a condominium caught fire early Wednesday morning.
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A grandmother and her grandchild were both killed in the fire at the Walden Woods Condominiums in northeast Raleigh.

Firefighters on the scene said a mother and infant were rescued from a balcony, as was another young child.

On Wednesday evening, there was melted siding, boarded-up windows and charring up the side of the unit.

In a preliminary report, Raleigh Fire Department said the cause of the fire was accidental but noted that the building did not have working sprinklers or smoke detectors.

Calls to 911 indicated that the fire started in the kitchen.

Neighbors said they woke up to the sounds of screaming. People ran outside to find the mother and baby on the burning third-floor balcony.

On the 911 call, she's heard screaming, "Oh my God, the kids are inside, the kids are inside,"

The mother jumped as flames were climbing the unit.

"I had 911 on and I'm trying to get her - saying 'they're coming, they're coming. they're going to help you, they're going to help You," said Melissa Hinkle, an eyewitness. "She's screaming and I'm screaming back -- it's going to be OK, they're coming in."

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The family was renting the property and the property owner told ABC11 by telephone that he was at the rental unit just this past Saturday doing some maintenance work.

The owner confirmed that neither smoke detectors nor a sprinkler were in the unit and said that when the condominiums were built, they were not required.

However, according to state law, landlords are required to "provide operable smoke detectors."

"That's required regardless of grandfathering in," said Jeff Friddle, the Walden Woods Homeowner's Association president. "Smoke detectors are required."

Friddle said he himself experienced a fire at his unit about 12 years ago. He has since installed smoke detectors and said he can only wish they were at this condo.

"That would have made a huge difference here," Friddle said. "You never want to lose a neighbor, especially like this."

The victims' names have not been released.

Residents are rallying to try to help the survivors. They're planning to collect clothes, diapers and money through an online fundraiser.
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