RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A fire burned through the roof of an assisted living facility in Raleigh on Thursday and forced 50 patients and 16 staff members to evacuate.
The fire started before 3 p.m. at Spring Arbor Living at 1810 New Hope Road in eastern Raleigh.
Chopper 11 arrived at the scene and spotted firefighters working on the roof and inside the building. Later, flames could be seen shooting out of the roof followed quickly by billowing smoke.
The fire was contained after a couple of hours, Raleigh Fire Chief Herbert Griffin told ABC11.
He said the fire started in the back exterior of the building before moving inside, where 50 residents and 16 staff members were evacuated. Griffin said a paramedic who was at the facility smelled smoke and made the initial 911 call.
"(Fire crews) cut holes in the structure to alleviate the smoke and the actual intensity of the fire," Griffin said. "They did move to the inside of the structure where it was quickly extinguished and contained."
There are no reports of injuries but the patients were being placed in an air-conditioned Wake County EMS transport vehicle to cool off and be taken to other Spring Arbor facilities across Wake County.
"All residents and team members were safely evacuated," Spring Arbor said in a statement. "Resident safety is our top priority and our team worked quickly to ensure that everyone safely exited the building ... Our team is continuing to provide support and care for all Spring Arbor of Raleigh residents."
"We were terrified," Robin Haddock said. "It looked from the live feed that they were getting the fire under control but I was worried about smoke."
Haddock watched it all play out from the ABC11 mobile news app where she spotted her 96-year-old mother Hilda, who just moved into the facility four months ago.
She felt a wave of emotions as she rushed to Raleigh. Her concerns only grew as she made it closer.
"I didn't know at that time that the fire broke out in her unit... I didn't find that until we were almost in Raleigh," she said.
Before the fire was completely under control the flames reignited and more crews arrived. While the fire department managed the fire, EMS rushed to get the seniors out of the heat and into a safe space.
Eyewitness News watched as the seniors were wheeled into buses and moved to other spring arbor locations in Wake County
"Just getting the special needs people. People on oxygen and things of that magnitude. They are being moved to a secondary location some to Apex," said Chief Griffin.
The Cary and Apex locations were both quiet after a tense afternoon.
"I have a feeling this really confused a lot of them a whole, whole lot, especially loading on buses and just driving off. Her room is all decorated with her things. I brought her antiques from home and her pictures. It will be very odd for her not to be with her things," Haddock said.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined. Spring Arbor added that it continues to work with Raleigh FD on the investigation.