Local News

Carrboro Officials Fight 7th Apartment Fire Since Sunday

Posted November 28, 2007
Updated November 29, 2007

— Carrboro fire officials on Wednesday fought their seventh apartment fire since Sunday.

Wednesday night’s fire damaged 15 units in a building at an apartment complex and displaced 26 residents, including an infant.

The fire happened just before 6:30 p.m. at Ashbrook Apartments, 601 Jones Ferry Road. Eight units were involved with fire and seven others received water and/or smoke damage, authorities said. The units did not have sprinklers because of when they were built, officials said.

The complex is home to a number of students and faculty from UNC-Chapel Hill, but it was unclear if any of the displaced residents were connected with UNC.

The building is not livable, authorities said, and three firefighters suffered minor injuries. Two suffered smoke inhalation and one suffered a hand laceration.

"They had fire throughout the roof area, large amounts of fire," said Capt. Ken Squires, of the Carrboro Fire Department.

Firefighters had to take an aggressive approach to contain the fire since the building was surrounded by trees and thick pine-straw mulch on the grounds around them.

Personnel from Carrboro, Chapel Hill, North Chatham and New Hope fire departments were at the scene during the fire. They rescued several pets, officials said.

Apartment management arranged for the 26 displaced residents to be housed at area hotels, and the Red Cross was assisting.

The string of apartment fires in Carrboro began Sunday morning at Carolina Apartments on Highway 54. That fire was a result of cooking and resulted mostly in smoke damage.

Sunday night, firefighters were called to Berkshire West, also on Highway 54. There, an electrical short in a kitchen caused a fire that involved two rooms of one apartment and resulted in water damage to two other units.

Twelve residents were displaced overnight.

Monday afternoon, a fire was reported in an apartment building on Rock Haven Road. There, firefighters found moderate smoke conditions as a result of an overheated oven.

Tuesday morning, a fire was reported in a duplex on Bim Street, a block from the fire station. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a fire involving a deck and a privacy fence. The cause of that fire was determined to be discarded smoking materials.

Tuesday evening, another call came in at an apartment complex off Smith Level Road, south of downtown. Unattended cooking was the cause of the fire, where smoke caused most of the damage.

Wednesday morning, firefighters extinguished a fire in a second-floor unit at Ramsgate Apartments on Highway 54. Discarded smoking materials were the culprit there; the fire burned a balcony and exterior wall.

Wednesday night’s fire at Ashbrook was the most serious of the seven fires and the only one that resulted in any injuries to firefighters.

The latest string of fires continued a trend of apartment fires in Carrboro going back as far as March. One of those, in September, resulted in a civilian death and the total loss of an entire apartment building.

It is believed that fire burned for nearly 20 minutes before anyone reported it.

In October, Carrboro Fire-Rescue initiated an outreach program to all the apartment communities in town. Fire personnel deliver an awareness program aimed at apartment dwellers that focuses on smoking, cooking and candle safety.

The program educates residents on measures they can take to minimize their fire risk. In keeping with national trends, cooking and smoking are leading causes of residential fires in Carrboro.

Carrboro Fire-Rescue reminds everyone not to leave cooking or smoking materials unattended. Be absolutely certain smoking materials are completely extinguished and discard them in an appropriate container. Never smoke in bed.


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  • rhodes755973 Nov 30, 2007

    I lived in Carrboro for several years but moved to Hillsborough because I had the same fears of poor/outdated construction in Carrboro, I was fortunate enough to find an apartment at Hertiage Apartments in Hillsborough the apartment is new AND my apartment has a sprinkler system, I sleep much better at night.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Nov 29, 2007

    Ok, sorry if I offended everyone but I wasn't really being serious about the stupid thing, although a lot of fires are caused by stupidity. I will stick with the stereotype that a lot of smart university types have no common sense. I see it on a daily basis.

  • PaulRevere Nov 29, 2007

    I'm glad everyone is okay. Someone needs to teach those students and faculty how to smoke (whatever it is they're smoking)!

  • suchhappiness Nov 29, 2007

    Doesn't anyone know how to cook?

  • sherryweb Nov 29, 2007

    It would be so nice if the story were completely accurate. Two of the 3 injured were actually Carrboro Police Officers, not all rescue personnel involed in a fire are firemen. These officers risk everything knocking on doors to evacuate a burning building without the gear to protect them from smoke and flames to save even one person. Thank God that no one was killed!

    And no I'm not a police officer.

  • damfrisky33 Nov 29, 2007

    We lived in apartment for couple years before buying another house, and I have prayed almost every night that the building does not burn down. The fact is that the apartment managment does not care about the welfare of anyone, just the monthly check they get on time. Some of the apartment structures are so old and way unhealthy to live in. I can emagine how hard is to loose something you have been holding on for long time. My prayers go to all the families who lost their properties in the fire.

  • Squirreling Dervish Nov 29, 2007


    Thank you for expressing so eloquently what I was thinking but could not put into words. I lost everything to a condo fire in 2006. My husband and I are neither Section 8, or "stupid" as expressed by some of the comments. We also lost a pet, which made all the other material losses pale in comparison. Our fire originated next door and the cause was never discovered. It was terrifying to go through and now I am petrified at fire. Every fire truck siren makes my blood go cold, and every time I read a story my heart goes out to victims.

    It's the holidays--be kind.


  • ECU_chick Nov 29, 2007

    Of course we know someone has to pre-judge. Glad to know you and your neighbors are alive. I am deathly afraid of fire...

  • jenjrwil Nov 29, 2007

    Everyone please don't judge these people if you don't know all the facts. My mom lives in this complex and was home last night during this fire. People were really scared and lost everything. Plus the poor over worked fire fighters are so worn out. One was sitting on the curb crying. Please do what you can even if all it is are prayers. It could have been you or someone you know.

  • nicholeblanton Nov 29, 2007

    This was my apartment complex and the building that was burned was 20 feet at most from ours. We were evactuated as well. To answer a few questions that have been raised here: i know most of the people in that building, they are either seniors, families, or graduate students. They are not stupid or ignorant, and I personally resent the fact that people would assume that they would be because they were involved in a fire. A fire is a tragedy no matter where or when it happens, or who it happens to. I hope that none of you have to witness what I witnessed last night. Until you are standing in fear watching everything you've ever worked for..your pets, your clothes, your everything burn or potentially burn to the ground you have no right to comment on anything about these people. I can't believe that some of you "intelligent" and "educated" people would say such horrible things. Thank God our friends are safe, that's the only thing that matters.