Dozens displaced after large apartment fire in Carrboro

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Dozens are displaced after a large fire ripped through an Orange County apartment complex. (WTVD)

Dozens are displaced after a large fire ripped through an Orange County apartment complex. The building is a total loss.

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Firefighters battled the fire at the Villages of Chapel Hill apartments off Smith Level Road in Carrboro on Monday evening.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to contain the blaze.

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No one was injured but the top floor units sustained heavy fire damage.

"It was terrifying," said Mario Grisanela, who escaped with his parents. "I saw my roof get burned, my room is at the second floor and it was directly above my roof. I wasn't sure it was going to be burned down."

The Carrboro Police Department helped in the rescue effort and all occupants were able to get out of the units.

"Certainly we encourage everyone, have an escape plan, practice that with their families," said Carrboro Fire Chief Susanna Williams. "Pick a meeting place so everyone is accounted for. Check your smoke alarms."

There were no injuries to residents or firefighters. One dog was rescued and two cats are still missing.

David DeGenova and Damaris Osario managed to escape along with their pet rabbit Leo. They had just returned from winter break before classes resume at UNC.

"All the things we were planning to do - jobs, emails, grocery shopping - it seems insignificant now," DeGenova said.

"Yeah," Osario added. "I can't even think about material things."

The eight upstairs apartments sustained significant fire damage - the eight downstairs units mostly smoke and water.

The fire has been ruled accidental. Investigators said an exhaust fan was to blame.

The building has been condemned and a total of 21 units are affected. Total dollar loss has been estimated at $500,000.

As investigators searched for answers, residents had to wait for CO levels to drop before getting back inside. Many sat inside a bus to keep warm.

"The most important thing is health, of course," Grisanela said. "That we're alive, and that's what matters."

Officials said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Related Topics:
apartment fireorange county newsCarrboroChapel HillOrange County
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