Local News

Many questions for survivors of Christmas Day fire

Posted December 26, 2011
Updated December 28, 2011

— 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.

Neighbors, non-profits aid after fire Neighbors, non-profits aid after fire

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.


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  • KT6596 Dec 28, 2011

    Sprinklers? Check out the State Legislature and you will find your problem.

  • RM24 Dec 27, 2011

     One resident said neighbors had set a fire outside and it spread to the building...

    And there is the cause! Now who is to blame???

  • avnvideo Dec 27, 2011

    the city of raleigh or the landlords do nothing about having too many people in apts or rental homes

  • saunch09 Dec 26, 2011

    Hey Sunshine,
    Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a Triangle McMansion. Some even CHOSE not too.
    Happy Holidays!

  • Faux Hemingway Dec 26, 2011

    Sounds like they might have a few clues. I would also like to know who we can contact to assist. Contacting the apartment, or owner yields only messages. I've been the person in this story back in the Fuquay-Varina apartment fire a few years ago. The community helped my family and I out, and we got through the situation. I would love an opportunity to do the same.

  • fayncmike Dec 26, 2011

    This is a really sad story. Some years ago we too were burned out of our home. It was a few days before Thanksgiving. In our case however our insurance company kicked right in and setup alternate living quarters for us the very next day. After that, since, where we lived, no construction was possible until after the spring thaw and mud season and because we had 135 acres of property on which to place it, they paid for a nice mobile home for us to live in until we had a new house built. After the new house was built we retained the mobile home and later sold it. We used those proceeds to pay for the interior decorator and landscaper.

  • sunshine1040 Dec 26, 2011

    Where were they all staying before the fire 6 people in a two bedroom apartment Must have been mighty big bedrooms and a very unsual lease . Glad to hear they are all ok and nobody hurt

  • sheripetrequin Dec 26, 2011

    Who do we contact to help these people out?