Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — Tenants were back at an apartment complex Tuesday to salvage belongings after a Monday night fire.
Seven families were displaced by the fire at the Ashewyck Manor Apartments in Fuquay-Varina. Witnesses said the fire started in the upper portion of the two-story complex at about 8 p.m. Monday.
The blaze moved quickly from left to right across the roof, which eventually collapsed, witnesses said.
Amy Jaeger lives behind the apartment complex and watched the fire spread.
"From the time we saw it burning, from the left side to the right side was maybe two minutes,” she said. "My first thought was, I pray to God nobody is inside there."
Eight apartment units were damaged, either by fire or water. Seven families were displaced, one unit was vacant. No one was injured.
“We had heavy fire showing on the end of the roof. In three to four minutes it spread to the other end of the complex,” Fuquay-Varina Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Jones said. "It's definitely not a good way to start the New Year off, but the good thing was no one hurt. The material things can be replaced.”
The cause of the fire was thought to be accidental, Jones said, but it hadn't been determined Tuesday. He said he expected to have more details Wednesday after an insurance investigator completes his report.
"(What a) way to start my brand new year. I don't know. I'm shocked, speechless really," said apartment resident Danny Horton, who escaped with a laundry basket filled with clothes.
"We had all new stuff, and it's all gone," apartment resident Nicole Reynolds said. "You're sitting here, like, we don't have anything left. What are we going to do? But at least nobody got hurt."
Patricia McDougall was at work when the fire started.
"It's terrible. I'm just glad everybody is alright. I'm just glad everybody is OK. I don't know, like I said, we don't have anything,” McDougall said.
"To those who were not home, to come home and find something like this, I can't imagine. I can't imagine,” Jaeger said.
The Red Cross helped some of the fire victims find housing Tuesday night, while others were staying with relatives.
Crews from Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Fairview and Northwest Harnett County fire departments responded to the fire.