Displaced residents can get into fire-damaged apartments Saturday morning
Posted March 17
Raleigh, N.C. — Downtown Raleigh residents forced to leave their homes as fire raged on Thursday night can meet at Raleigh City Hall Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to be escorted back to their apartments to pick up belongings.
But it could be months before those residents return for good, Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said.
McGrath said crews would escort residents Saturday to safely gather some belongings, and that they should expect some water and smoke damage, but most possessions should be salvageable.
Ten buildings just east of Raleigh's Glenwood South entertainment district were damaged when a high-rise under construction went down in flames Thursday night. The heat from the fire, which totaled the building that was to be The Metropolitan, toppled a construction crane and melted windows in condominiums of the Quorum Center and the Link apartments.
"I looked out the window and said, 'Oh my gosh, have you called 911? We’ve got to call 911,'" Sherri Henderson said.
She and her husband stayed in their ninth floor condo at the Quorum Residences until the heat cracked their windows.
The Metropolitan, the property under construction bounded by Harrington, Lane, Dawson and Jones streets was to house more than 200 apartments. By Friday morning, it was a pit of wet ash, and glass shards from broken windows blanketed the streets around it.
At least three buildings were evacuated as the fire raged. More than 205 apartments and 37 condos were damaged across three buildings.
"The fire department did an excellent job evacuating the building," said John McInerney of Talis Management, which operates the Quorum Center. "All the residents were evacuated, all the pets were evacuated. No injuries."
Still, he said it could take months to fix damaged units and make them livable again.
Six floors of the nearby 204-unit Link Apartments were damaged, and 17 floors of the 44-condo Quorum Center were partially damaged, according to fire officials.
"There are still shards of glass hanging from the windows. There’s standing water on the floors," McInerney said.
The League of Municipalities building sustained damage to five floors.
Banner Real Estate Group and Clancy & Theys Construction Company, The Metropolitan's owner and construction company, respectively, released a joint statement thanking firefighters and asking for patience while authorities investigate.
“We thank the heroic firefighters and all first responders who risked their lives to contain this fire and that no loss of life occurred," the statement reads. "While the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, we are working closely with authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and review of the incident.
"To our neighbors and to the surrounding community, we are saddened by this unfortunate situation and ask for your patience as the investigation continues and as we begin the process of site clean up.”
Officials with the Red Cross said they were helping about 40 people who needed a place to stay. People who were affected by the fire can call the Red Cross at 919-231-1601 or go to the office at 100 Pear Tree Lane.
Others found temporary shelter at area hotels. The Hampton Inn at Glenwood South, the Holiday Inn on Hillsborough Street and the Hampton Inn on Hillsborough Street all reported hosting fire evacuees.
Kevin Gicovi, a resident at the Link, said he was getting ready for bed when the fire started. He could feel the heat from the flames before he and everyone else in the apartment packed up what they could and left.
If we had not woken up, if something had gotten worse, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about it," Gicovi said. "It was definitely a scary moment."
Henderson said the help of neighbors was a bright spot in an otherwise dark experience.
"We all look out for each other. We all care a lot about each other," she said. "It’s just been really heartwarming to see how we’ve all come together."