Local News

Eight jump to escape fire in Raleigh apartment building

Posted March 24, 2014

— Several people were hurt when they were forced to jump from the third floor of a Raleigh apartment building after a fire broke out late Sunday.

Authorities said they are investigating what sparked the blaze, which began shortly before midnight at 611 Peyton St. and spread to 12 apartments.

Raleigh Fire Battalion Chief David Whitley said eight people jumped. Seventeen people were taken to WakeMed and Duke Raleigh hospitals. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Twyla Ayashi said she and her boyfriend jumped to safety after waking up to the blaring of a smoke alarm.

"I saw smoke coming under the door. It was black, and it was coming in kind of fast, so the only thing I could think was we're going to have to jump," said Ayashi, who suffered cuts to her feet from broken glass.

"Your mind just goes blank, and if you want to live, you do what you can to live," she said. "I think I’m still in shock. That was a long fall, and it didn’t feel good."

Arturo Hernandez-Colon, 23, said he opened his apartment door and was knocked to the ground by the heat and smoke. So, he tossed his 7- month-old son and 2-year-old daughter to safety before jumping himself.

Another resident told WRAL News that she jumped out of a window with her 3-year-old to flee the flames.

Ayashi said another mother tried to drop her infant to safety from a window, but no one caught the baby.

"They had 10 to 20 people standing at the bottom of the ladder saying, 'We got the baby.' She wouldn’t let him go, and she finally let him go," she said.

Authorities said the 6-month-old will be hospitalized for a day or two as a precaution but is expected to be fine.

Shea Grimes, who lives in an adjacent building, said she tried to catch children and break the falls of adults jumping to escape the fire.

"Everybody was jumping. It was chaos," Ayashi said.

Witnesses and firefighters said one resident who got out of the building safely retrieved a ladder and helped others escaped before he suffered smoke inhalation. He was taken to WakeMed.

Some young children tried to head back into the burning building to help their mother, Ayashi said.

"Someone had to stop them from running back inside," she said.

Firefighters said it took about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze.

Fifty-one people live in the building, authorities said, and a bus was brought to the scene to help keep them warm.

Whitley said "the sheer number of people and finding out who was in the building" made the response challenging.

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced families.

Raleigh Fire Department officials said it could be days before they determine the cause of the fire. They said there was a fire in the same building about three years ago.

The property manager said the apartment where the fire started was newly renovated and equipped with a smoke detector. He said he will try to offer tenants another place to live or help with relocation however he can.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 26, 2014

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    My prayers that no one else would die were not answered...neither were the ones about stopping buildings from catching fire where single parents and infants live and might have to jump several stories to save their own lives. I especially would like to see an end to Children's Burn Units or Children's Cancer Centers. But, it's like I'm talking to myself...

  • jessie4eva14 Mar 25, 2014

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    just keep us* in your prayers

  • jessie4eva14 Mar 25, 2014

    Hi my name is jessica and i am one of the few that was in the building that caught on fire. The fire left me and my family without a home and all i ask is for a little donotion to help us get back on our feets and if you cant donate just keeps up in your prayers... my email is jessie4eva14@gmail.com

  • Ann Hoskins Mar 25, 2014
    user avatar

    Interesting-the one hospital that gets money from taxpayers, a "non-profit"... didn't get any of these patients. Hmm. Could it be because they don't generally take patients who don't have insurance? (Oh, they'll get them in their E.D., but they turf them to other hospitals once they're stabilized...). Thanks, Duke Raleigh and WakeMed, for taking care of your community!

  • Erika Phipps Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Thanks Open1Mind for the good advice. We have one of those fire escapes for our house, and although we had to adapt it for our very wide (old) window sill, it provides peace of mind. I hope others will consider getting them - esp. if you live in an older apartment building or house that can't provide one for you!

  • LetsBeFair Mar 24, 2014

    Sure glad these people were only hurt and not killed like to poor folks that jumped from the World Trade Center.

  • James McFetridge Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Upper story dwellers, you can buy your own fire escape chain ladder in a box. It hides under a bed or takes on the disguise of a chest. In case of fire, you open the window, look below you to see if it is a clear exit, open the box, and extend the chain ladder to the ground. Alternatively, you can tie together bed sheets and make a rope with one end tied securely to a bed post. Besides, metal fire escapes can present their own hazards both in terms of security and safety; their best use to date for me has been an outdoor radio antenna.

  • Chris James Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

    obamacare rises again - i'm not even going to bother quoting your comment....but, your comment is uncalled for, and it really shows your true colors. i assume by your username that you are a conservative. if that's true, you're obviously the sort of conservative that gives a bad name to all conservatives. it is people like you that make me embarassed at times to call myself a conservative. shame on you for being a heartless coward hiding behind a screenname.

  • Amy Smathers Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

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    Think about the average apartment complex. I lived in a brand new one, 4 stories tall, only way out was the front door or jump over the balcony. The buildings have to be a certain number of stories to require a fire escape.

  • Chris James Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

    an update on the condition of the baby that was dropped from the window would be nice.