Local News

Four weeks later: Cause of Raleigh fire remains unknown, residents ready to move forward

Posted April 13

— It was the largest fire to strike downtown Raleigh since the 1920s, but one month later, the cause of the fire is still unknown.

The unfinished, five-story Metropolitan building on nearly 2 acres at West Jones and North Harrington streets, near the Glenwood South restaurant and bar district, ignited around 10 p.m. on March 16. Five alarms for help to battle the blaze were sounded over a two-hour period. The blaze damaged nine buildings nearby, five severely.

The Raleigh assistant fire chief said Thursday that investigators are working as quickly as they can to determine a cause, but he asked for continued patience from the community.

Cleanup of the Metropolitan is underway, and across the street at The Quorum, ventilation hoses spill out of boarded-up windows.

"We had a beautiful building, and all of a sudden, nobody lives there anymore," said Ted Reynolds, who lives at The Quorum. "You look up there and you just kind of shake your head, but it's no time to lick your wounds. It's time to get to work."

Workers have been busy gutting the condos and offices at The Quorum, tearing out flooring and sheetrock.

"It's a very sound, string structure," Reynolds said.

At the Link Apartments, 50 of the more than 200 units remain unfit to live in.

A manager of the building said many of the displaced residents have found short-term leases at other apartment communities.

The trendy city block is ready to move on, but the hole still stands.

"I think developers are looking at things in a proactive, positive way," Reynolds said. "Let's get it cleaned up and back and do it again."

Reynolds said it will likely be close to a year before his building is repaired and livable again.

The Metropolitan will be rebuilt, but a spokesman says no construction will begin until after the investigation is complete.

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