Local News

Smoking blamed for Raleigh apartment fire

Posted February 13, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Improperly discarded smoking material was likely to blame for an early-morning fire that forced 15 adults and four children out of their homes Friday, authorities said.

There were no reports of injuries, and Raleigh fire officials called the blaze "accidental."

Raleigh fire displaces 19 people Raleigh fire displaces 19 people

The fire started sometime before 2:30 a.m. at Hamilton Ridge Apartments, 4951 Tall Timber Drive.

Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said the fire started on the second floor and quickly spread to the roof. At least two apartments were destroyed.

"Well, the truth of it is, it’s 2:30 in the morning. Heavy fire in an apartment building presents an awful lot of danger,” McGrath said.

The Red Cross is helping the displaced residents find temporary shelter and providing them with food and clothing.

James Cunningham said he was asleep on his couch when firefighters began banging on his door.

Fast-moving flames and smoke were all Cunningham said he saw when he got outside his apartment.

“The corner apartment was on fire, and 20 minutes later, the back corner was on fire. So it had come all the way around,” he said.

Kenny Coats said his roommate saved his life by waking him up so he could flee the apartment.

Coats said his back sliding glass door exploded and smoke and fire took over his apartment. The smoke detector did not go off, he said.


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  • melodiclaura Feb 13, 2009

    if I recall correctly, there was nothing in this article that said anything about alcohol use. A fire can happen at anytime to anyone. Accidents happen, thats why we have insurance. I'm just glad that everyone got out of the building.

  • melodiclaura Feb 13, 2009

    So I have a question..to all of you that have the high and mighty attitude..have you never done anything that was an accident and could have hurt someone? And no there was no alcohol involved. I know some of the people in this building, and I'm just glad that everyone is okay. Some of you really know how to beat a dead horse! Lets move on please...

  • cleveland_steamer Feb 13, 2009

    " the xmoke detector did not go off "

    and why has he not changed the battery? that little device could of saved his life if he was alone. i dont care who owns it, if its there to save my life i will check it.

  • westoflyra Feb 13, 2009

    You're finding fault with a cigarette and not the person. It doesn't always have to be a cigarette that causes a fire.

    You don't make any sense. If you're so against smoking, then you must also be against burning candles, incense, and cooking.

  • scientistjo Feb 13, 2009

    This is actually getting kind of fun. But let's read the title of this article: "Smoking blamed for Raleigh apartment fire". It does not say cooking, nor does it candle, nor does it say incense, nor does it say an overheated 'Easy Bake' oven, etc.

  • westoflyra Feb 13, 2009

    So what? Folks also fall asleep with candles burning or while they're cooking.

    I know what you're saying, but if you want to blame a cigarette for starting a fire, you may as well blame a car for killing someone and not the drunk driver.

  • scientistjo Feb 13, 2009

    "I'd blame the drinking since someone who is drunk can't think clearly enough to discard a cigarette. I speak from having lived with someone who would do this on occasion." westoflyra

    I'm sure we are all tired of beating this dead horse, but here goes. Fire starts fire. People who are NOT DRUNK fall asleep holding cigarettes sometimes. This has been known to burn down buildings and take lives. Also, you made up this drinking and smoking thing because no where in the article does it say alcohol was involved!

  • westoflyra Feb 13, 2009

    I'd blame the drinking since someone who is drunk can't think clearly enough to discard a cigarette. I speak from having lived with someone who would do this on occasion.

    Though I don't smoke anymore, I had sense enough to extinguish the cigarette after finishing it.

  • scientistjo Feb 13, 2009

    "If someone is passed out from drinking and holding a burning cigarette, which is often the case, you can blame the drinking as well as the smoking." westoflyra

    No, I'd blame the smoking. Again, the beer wasn't on fire. The only problem this person would have had the next day was a hangover.

  • Dark_Horse Feb 13, 2009

    Get renter's insurance. Its a terrible thing when you lose all your possessions because someone else was being irresponsible and you have to start from nothing.