Red Cross volunteer: Raleigh blaze was 'worst apartment fire I've seen'
Posted April 9, 2016
Updated April 10, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — A fire on Saturday evening that engulfed an apartment building in North Raleigh near Crabtree Valley Mall and sparked brush fires was likely caused by a discarded cigarette, authorities said Sunday.
Assistant Chief Fire Marshal W. Keith Tessinear said that "improperly discarded smoking materials" sparked the fire and weather conditions- including high winds- and the elevation of the building played a significant role in the rapid spread of the flames.
Authorities said the fire started around 5:21 p.m. at Pinnacle Apartments located at 5034 Edwards Mill Road. One person sustained minor injuries after jumping from the building, authorities said. Eric Bryant said his mother jumped from her balcony to escape the fire, and lost everything, including her two dogs, as a result of the blaze.
"She saw a brush fire outside of the house when she pulled up. She alerted some neighbors, told them to get out because they have a small child," Bryant said. "She went into her apartment to put her dogs on leashes and try to get them out and when she tried to leave, there was just no way to get out of her front door."
Bryant said his mother, Sharon, was still in the hospital Sunday night. An online fundraising page has been set up to help Sharon Bryant, because she didn't have renters insurance.
Eric Bryant said his family is pulling together resources to replace what his mother lost, but the road to recovery is just beginning.
"She has a broken shoulder, three broken ribs and some first and second-degree burns and some scratches from crawling out of the woods," he said.
At least two people were taken to the hospital to be treated for burns. Their condition was unknown.
It took firefighters about an hour and a half to bring the blaze under control, according to the fire report. The accidental fire damaged all of the 12-unit building, displacing 24 people.
Red Cross volunteer Liz Mays said the organization helps roughly five families each day in the region. Saturday, that number nearly quadrupled.
"It's one of the worst apartment fires I've seen," she said. "I've not seen a building literally burned to the ground like this."
On Sunday, firefighters were still on the scene, spraying down hot spots as a precautionary measure.
Officials said it took about 65 firefighters from multiple agencies to control the fire. Responders from Raleigh Fire, Wake County Fire, the US Forest Service and Wake EMS responded to the blaze.
Pinnacle Apartments is owned by property management company Drucker & Falk. The property is worth more than $6 million, according to county real estate records, though the amount of damage done by the fire was not available.