Raleigh, N.C. — Someone smoking in bed is blamed for the fire that left 17 residents of Raleigh's Mission Valley Apartments homeless Friday.
As most of the Triangle battled ice and sleet, Robin Byrd and her neighbors were confronted with smoke and soot.
"I'm looking at my door jamb, and I'm looking at black soot, black smoke coming through the door," she recalled.
The fire started in a ground-floor apartment on Centennial Parkway at about 4 p.m. Byrd's was one of 16 units damaged, according to the Red Cross.
Seven people were taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, but no fatalities were attributed to the fire.
"It felt like a dream," she said. "I just started running down the side of the building, beating the windows and getting people's attention to come on down."
She knocked on Sherman Blalock's door, but by the time he could answer, the smoke was too intense for him to leave.
"I got to go out the window," he said.
Blalock, who suffers from several ailments including cancer and lupus, salvaged his medications but lost just about everything else.
"I just brought a brand new mattress," he said. "You know, that's not cheap."
Both Byrd and Blalock said their faith kept them strong despite the loss.
"God is good, because it could've been a heck of a lot worse," Byrd said, noting that she planned to volunteer with the Red Cross after getting back on her feet.
For now, the Red Cross is helping Byrd, Blalock and their neighbors with temporary housing.