Many questions for survivors of Christmas Day fire
Posted December 26, 2011
Updated December 28, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Seventeen-year-old Sandra Cruz and her family are faced with dozens of questions after the fire that ruined their townhouse on Sunday and left them and two dozen neighbors without a place to live.
Cruz shared a two-bedroom unit in the Green Castle Apartments, at 2647 New Hope Church Road in Raleigh, with her parents, three siblings and an uncle.
"Where are you going to stay?" she wondered Monday. "We are staying in the hotel right now."
Cruz rescued one sweater from the fire. It was the only Christmas gift her parents had been able to afford to give her, she said.
Lt. Adam Stanley, with the Raleigh Fire Department, said the fire was reported at 2:19 a.m. Sunday. After about an hour, firefighters had it under control, and no one was injured. But seven units in the building were destroyed and three others were damaged.
The Red Cross and Helping Hand Mission were trying to answer some of the immediate needs of the 32 people displaced. The Red Cross provided shelter at the Comfort Suites hotel on Capital Boulevard. Helping Hand brought toys and clothes to the victims, who had no Christmas.
Community members responded as well. Clarence Jones said Monday that after seeing a report on the fire on WRAL News, he dropped off school supplies for the children.
"I'm happy because I won't have to go to school without a book bag," student Bryan Sanchez said.
For Cruz, her family and her neighbors, the temporary aid is just a start.
"I feel sad about it. we have to start all over again," she said.
Stanley said investigators have determined the fire started outside unit 2647 and spread up to the roof, but they haven't yet figured out what caused it. One resident said neighbors had set a fire outside and it spread to the building.
The building had smoke detectors but not a sprinkler system, Stanley said.
Sunday's fire was the third large one to strike Green Castle Apartments in the past five years.
Faulty wiring inside a townhome sparked a June 14, 2010, fire that destroyed or damaged six units, displacing 24 people.
Lightning struck a townhome on April 3, 2006, causing a fire that damaged seven units, leaving 12 people without a place to live.