Local News

Shelter Opened to Aid Apartment Fire Victims

Posted August 20, 2007

— The American Red Cross opened a shelter Monday afternoon for dozens of people displaced by an early morning fire at a north Raleigh apartment complex.

A three-alarm fire ripped through two buildings of Brentwood East Apartments, at 3819 Bonneville Court near New Hope Church Road, at about 4 a.m. Monday. About 70 firefighters responded to help extinguish the fire.

The fire started on a balcony of one of the apartments, although investigators hadn't determined the cause as of Monday afternoon, Raleigh Fire Department Battalion Chief E.M. Martin said.

At least 14 of the 22 units involved sustained damage from fire, water or smoke, authorities said.

Three residents, including one who jumped from a balcony, were taken to WakeMed with non-life-threatening injuries. One of those residents was transferred to the Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, while a second was treated at WakeMed and released.

Two firefighters also suffered from smoke inhalation and exhaustion, and one of them was taken to a local hospital for treatment, Raleigh Fire Department Division Chief H.F. Warner said.

A four-hour firewall between buildings helped prevent the fire from spreading further, Martin said, noting most newer apartment buildings have firewalls that are designed to hold for only two hours.

All residents of the apartment buildings were accounted for, Warner said. Raleigh police were able to help get everyone out of the building by knocking on the residents' doors, he said.

"They were just banging on the door," resident Jacob Hannah said. "The next thing I know, they said, 'Fire,' and I just grabbed my stuff and ran out the door."

Martin said the apartments have smoke detectors, but it wasn't known how many were working.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at New Hope Baptist Church, at 4301 Louisburg Road, to help 45 adults and 26 children affected by the fire. Volunteers will serve meals, provide counseling and continue casework at the church.

“The American Red Cross will provide safe shelter for all those affected by the fire and financial assistance to help with food, clothing, medicines and other emergency needs,” Barry Porter, executive director of the Red Cross' Triangle Area Chapter, said in a statement. "After the emergency phase and victims are able to begin their recovery plans, the Red Cross will provide guidance and other financial assistance such as rent, deposits and bedding to re-locate those who have lost everything.”

Language has been a primary obstacle in helping the displaced families, Red Cross volunteer Alan McKinney said.

"The majority of these people are Spanish-speaking. We brought two different interpreters, but when you're dealing with 22 families, two interpreters are not enough," McKinney said.

The Raleigh Police Department and Fire Department also provided interpreters, and El Pueblo, an advocacy group for Hispanics, sent staffers to the apartment complex to assist with the recovery effort.

Hannah said he left the apartment with very little but that he is grateful he and his children are alive.

"The other stuff, I'm not worried about," he said. "As long as I made it out safe, that's all that really matters."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • sanfather Aug 20, 2007

    I'm sorry did i wake you in a Spanish speaking country, no, neither did they, if they are here they need to learn and speak english, if not then they need to go back where they came from , enough of the special treatment they are getting.

  • claudnc Aug 20, 2007

    drnc - do you really believe that do you put gas in your car? well all of those companies have english/spanish options. Do you shop at any major retailer - they all have spanish options. Are you for real do you pay taxes to your county or to the federal government then you do business with spanish companies, corporation and your gov't offers spanish options. I will agree that not every company in this area offers that but if you deal with a company and they do business else where then they offer that option in specific driven areas. Thats exactly what I mean by head in the sand mentality. We all do business with spanish option's and you will continue to do so... Call Wake County Gov't on tomorrow and just see. Call state of NC gov't offices tomorrow - DMV call the federal gov't for tax info on tomorrow and then repost your findings.

  • pianoplayer Aug 20, 2007

    How come some of these comments are allowed to remain?--esp. since your term of service states..."refrain from uncivil and inappropriate...e.g. degrading, RACIST, crude...--Those of us who have written nice comments have not seen theirs posted...

  • pianoplayer Aug 20, 2007

    For those of you wanting to help, you can probably call the Red Cross....you can also call New Hope Baptist Church at 876-5250--they have a Hispanic ministry there, but I'm sure they would be appreciative of whatever help you could offer--be it translating or just hands to comfort. Certainly this is a trying time for all involved...from the grieving to the supportive, from the helper to the antagonist---all faces we've seen here on this website from comments voiced. Kindness is not something that has to have a language to be understood.

  • Fuquay Resident Aug 20, 2007

    I'm guessing either embers from a grill, a cigarette, or a candle caused it since it started on a blacony at 4 AM.

  • drnc Aug 20, 2007

    I don't do business with any company that requires me to make a language selection. I told AT&T I didn't like it and they gave me a customer service number that requires no language selection. I also stopped buying from Dell because of "customer no-service" in New Delhi.

  • seeingthru Aug 20, 2007

    Actually American is your native language based on English. The pronunciation, syntax, syllable accents and meanings differ vastly---by an english person

  • They call me CATMAN Aug 20, 2007


  • dont_preach Aug 20, 2007

    whata wrong with some of you??? people are out of a place to live and some of them has lost everything and the only thing you guys can talk about is spanish people and illigals! instead of thinking and being ignorant why dont you reach out and help people.this is the greatest country in the world but some of you are just stepping on everything that our past has fought, bleed and died for. shame!

  • Supie Aug 20, 2007

    wow, y'all , remember the last fire in Raleigh that looked like this from the air? that was on Buffaloe just a few blocks east of this fire !! maybe a "firebug" in the area? or maybe a coincidence ? I know there is a lot of lower-rent housing in this area, but this apartment complex put in a firewall that is not "lowend" so maybe guessing poor wiring would not be a useful guess. hmmmm...