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29 Displaced by Raleigh Apartment Fire

Posted March 26, 2008
Updated March 27, 2008

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— Fire destroyed or badly damaged more than two dozen apartments on Wednesday.

The flames were spotted around 1:45 p.m. at the Concord Apartments at 3920 Knickerbocker Parkway in Raleigh, off of Duraleigh Road. It took firefighters about an hour to contain the blaze, but they were able to limit it to the one structure. A nearby apartment building was evacuated as a precaution.

Investigators say pine straw that ringed the building helped fuel the fire. Firefighters are trying to pinpoint where the fire started. Investigators are isolating a second floor area on the West side of the Building.

No one was injured. About 29 residents were displaced by the fire.

Travis Babb said he had just gotten home from work when firefighters banged on his door. Babb and other residents who were home at the time all escaped the burning building. The thick smoke, though, forced the evacuation of nearby apartments.

“I probably don’t have anything to salvage. From my view when I went around, I don’t have a living room floor anymore. It’s all gutted,” said apartment resident Shamika Thompson.

The Red Cross and the apartment complex managers planned to relocate affected residents to other apartments within the complex or sister properties, they said.

The Red Cross opened a shelter at the Ridge Road Baptist Church, at 2011 Ridge Road, to help families displaced by the fire. The shelter will be open for the next day or two.


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  • san4short Mar 27, 2008

    I had gotten a notice a few months ago from our apartment manager about a small fire that was thankfully discovered quickly but was caused by cigarette thrown into pine straw. We were asked to be more careful. I've never since "pine straw" used till I moved down here, but my first thought was there's a fire just waiting to happen with that stuff around. Of course, it needs a spark to set it on fire, but with the drought we've been having and everything being so dry, it's no wonder something like this could happen. Regardless of who or what is to blame for this happening, my heart goes out to the families and I already got an e-mail at work asking for donations. Hope more people do something to help them out!

  • seeingthru Mar 27, 2008

    Oh I hope no pets were incinerated inthe fire!

  • TechRescue Mar 27, 2008

    As long as the Building Industry controls the Building codes, you will continue to see this happen - no sprinklers, firewalls that end at the attic space, very few requirements for fire resistance materials...

    Fires that should be able to be contained in one-apartment will continue to burn entire buildings or complexes, and people will continue to lose everything they own. We've been lucky so far on life and health, but it's only a matter of time before the right fire at the right hour will change all that.

    While you look out for your family, they look out for their investment accounts - and to greasing the political wheels to make sure that no changes that might affect their bottom line get enacted. Think about that when you vote this fall.

  • 7Degrees Mar 27, 2008

    Poor pine straw. Everyone wants to look for somthing to blame so let's blame pine straw. I guess all the paper, books, clothing, plastic and other easily flammable stuff in a person's home had nothing to do with fueling the fire?

  • At Work Mar 27, 2008

    i have renters insurance also with my auto and I pay 12.00 a month. Its worth having a piece of mind that god forbid anything happen that my family and I would have some cash to replace what we lost and most important we would have money to find a new home. Everyone should check into getting it.

  • haggis basher Mar 27, 2008

    "No amount of firewalls can stop fires in apartments. No code is going to make a difference. It's about proximity."

    Not so. Fires like this do not occur in the UK. Use the right materials and construction and this is NOT a problem.

  • haggis basher Mar 27, 2008

    Building codes are pathetically weak in NC. There is no way that a fire in one unit should easily spread to the rest. Fire walls and ceilings between units should keep the fire to the one unit long enough to allow the Fire dept to get it under control. The extra building cost would be minimal and it would save lives and money in the long term.

  • happy Mar 27, 2008

    colliedave - I think you misread what I was saying. We chose the apt complex that we live in BECAUSE it has fire sprinklers but I was asking if the units that burned had them. I have a great sense of security knowing that we have fire sprinklers (and renters insurance) BUT I wouldn't feel as safe, if these units that just burned had a sprinkler system. Just would like to know to ease my mind.

  • allison842 Mar 27, 2008

    I don't think pine straw is the only reason apartments burn, but it sure doesn't make any sense why they all seem to be surrounded by pine straw. Every apartment I've lived in (while moving around through college, etc.) has used pine straw to encircle the buildings. There's no reason for that. It's an even greater risk when people throw their cigarettes off the balcony and into the straw.

  • momof2 Mar 27, 2008

    chargernut69-until the fire department conducts its investigation no one can say for sure what caused the fire. Being in the apartment industry, I can say that I have never seen pine straw catch on fire by itself. If the fire started in the pine straw it would most likely be due to someone throwing a cigarette in it. A lot of fires are started each year by grilling on patios and balconies of apartments. For those unaware, it is illegal in the state to grill with an open flame on your patio or balcony yet many choose to ignore that law. I would suspect that most apartment fires are started by human error or human choices. There are building codes in place to help save lives and give people time to get out. There are fire codes to help prevent fires. If people would follow them and use common sense, we would have less multi-family housing fires. I don't know what started this particular fire. Please take my comment only as a generalization of what I have seen over the years.