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Cigarette blamed for Morrisville apartment fire

Posted October 20, 2009

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— Dozens of people were displaced Tuesday after a fire at the Camden Westwood Apartments in Morrisville, authorities said.

Morrisville Fire Chief Todd Wright said a discarded cigarette on a third-floor balcony started the fire.

morrisville apartment fire Dozens displaced by apartment fire

A resident called 911 around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday to report the fire at the complex at 2100 Summitt Ridge Loop, Morrisville Fire Department spokesman Tony Chiotakis said.

Forty firefighters put out the blaze, which extended from the third floor to the roof. No injuries were reported.

Some apartments have water damage from the sprinkler system and fire hoses, and others have smoke damage. About four units were destroyed.

"Smoke was filling the house. I had no clothes on, jumped up, ran out, tried to go back in a grab what I could, but it was just too full,” said Carl Konrad, who lived on the third floor. "I didn't see any flames until I got outside, and I watched my apartment burn. I got nothing; everything is gone."

Firefighters were able to locate Konrad's cat.

Wright said a fire barrier in the building kept the blaze from spreading further.

"We could hardly get like five to 10 seconds before the smoke all came in," resident Venkatesh Kappala said.

Kappala is a native of India who is in the U.S. on a work visa. He said he feared losing all of his visa documents in the fire and was thankful he was able to recover them after the blaze was extinguished.

"The valuables and everything we weren't really concerned about it because we can get the money back or whatever, but the documents are really what we wanted because that's what we worked for all our life," he said.

The Triangle chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting about 12 families – 30 to 40 people – affected by the fire. Some residents will be relocated to empty apartments in the complex.

Residents said the Camden Westwood complex required them to have renter's insurance, and Red Cross volunteers said they were trying to meet people's needs until insurance reimbursements come in.

Chiotakis said the fire was the biggest the city has seen in four years.


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  • anonemoose Oct 21, 2009

    Didn't ya'll read the headline? The cigarette did it, NHI (no humans involved). It just lit itself and burned the place down. If a person had done it, then the headline would have been "Irresponsible idiot starts fire".

  • Space Mountain Oct 21, 2009

    The person that threw out the cigarette should pay for the rebuilding.

  • thinkbee Oct 21, 2009

    The person who discarded the cigarette should have to contribute a large amount to reconstruction, etc. on an ongoing basis. A small price for all the losses he/she caused the tenants. Ban smoking on the premises....

  • Kelondris Oct 21, 2009

    I work in the insurance industry and a majority of apt fires are started by cigarettes. There actually some complexes that will not rent to smokers. Not in this state though. I hope the insurance companies get these people their checks soon, so they can try to get some normalcy back into their lives. **On an up note: My apt complex down the street from this one is actually collecting donations and basic goods for those displaced.**

  • anonemoose Oct 20, 2009

    Them killer cigarettes strike again. No other product on the market will kill you through its intended use. Since they can't be stopped from killing you by smoking them, they are getting more and more strident and starting fires on their own now. Pretty soon, they will be in the same league with those killer SUVs and taking out innocent bystanders by the dozens.

  • MileageWarrior Oct 20, 2009

    so much for all the ppl getting angry about the assumptions this was caused by a smoker before that detail was released. how's that crow taste?

  • TheAdmiral Oct 20, 2009

    If you want to stop this from happening, stop building them. Stop building them without firewalls.

    If I were a state investigator, the first question I would ask the town council and the inspections department is how much the builder paid them off to not put a real firewall in.

  • -Enter Screen Name- Oct 20, 2009

    @fkozlof & @SheriffTruman:

    Actually, building a fire-resistant building would be fairly economical and easy. The only problem - most people don't want to live in cinder block buildings with concrete floors.

    Once you start adding 'softer' things - like drywall, carpet, wood trim, most furniture, etc. - you now have combustible items that can easily spread fire.

  • MyNameIsMud Oct 20, 2009

    "so now that you've all had the fruitless exercise of speculating on the Cause, how many apartment dwellers will insist on MORE fire barriers when they choose their next apartment? Clearly there should be one between EACH apartment, to reduce risk of careless idiots ruining the possessions and maybe taking lives, of others."

    If I'm ever looking, I will rent from apartments with sprinklers and offering non-smoking dwellings.

  • deborahgfan71 Oct 20, 2009

    If non smoking apartment buildings here in Minneapolis you can't smoke in your apartment, on your deck, or in the hallways. You have to leave the building completely. More and more apartment buildings are going non smoking here in Minneapolis.