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Fire investigators seek cause of Raleigh blaze

Posted March 24, 2010

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— Fire investigators continued to search Wednesday for the cause of a blaze that destroyed three Raleigh homes and damaged four others Tuesday evening.

Eleven people were displaced after flames tore through the homes, two of which were unoccupied, in the 200 block of Armadale Lane, in the Highland Creek subdivision around 7:15 p.m. There were no reported injuries.

Armadale Lane house fire 11 without homes after neighborhood blaze

Witnesses said the houses caught fire like matchboxes as the fire jumped from one to the other. Gusty winds and the close proximity of the homes were factors in the rapid spread of the fire, authorities said.

Raleigh fire Capt. Tim Wilson said a preliminary investigation shows that the fire likely started in the grass around two houses. Foul play is not suspected.

Meanwhile Wednesday, victims of the fire – now staying with relatives or friends and receiving help from the American Red Cross – sifted through ashes looking for anything they could salvage. Six of the houses are uninhabitable.

Judy Barillari was out of town on business when the fire destroyed her home.

"I start thinking about little things – especially my grandchildren's pictures, my daughter's wedding – that's the stuff I'm going to miss," she said. "It's just stuff, and people have worse, worse things happen. This can be fixed."

The DeGuzman family lost part of their home.

Michael DuGuzman said he, his wife and their 4-year-old son were eating dinner when they saw smoke going by their back door.

"As soon as she opens the back door, she started screaming because the fire was on the ground already," he said. "So, I started calling 911."

Within minutes of being outside, their house caught fire. They had been in the home for three months.

"It puts everything into perspective. I'm glad my family is safe," he said.

12 Comments

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  • Das G Mar 25, 2010

    "That's the second 'firestorm' in North Raleigh in the past 10 years.

    Maybe it's time the zoning board looks into limits on how close together structures may be built?"

    Both occurred on very windy days and spread through yard materials. Maybe the zoning board should ban wind.

  • carolinagirl75 Mar 24, 2010

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families. My husband and I lost our home to a fire just a few years ago. A horrible time--and it is a great blessing that one one was hurt, and it was just "material things." Still, it's pretty painful to lose everything you have. If anyone affected by the fire is reading this, I'd just like you to know that it's a long, tough road, but you can and will get your life back.

  • ConqSoft Mar 24, 2010

    I live in Highland Creek and the HOA does NOT handle the landscaping on the homes here. They may for the townhouses, but that's not where the fire occured.

  • mjlt3 Mar 24, 2010

    sad, but thank God it was only "material things" ! NO LIFE WAS LOST........... the communities that they are building are just to close. This want the first community in Raleigh and I guarantee ya it want be the last..... there need to be a committee meeting (zoning and planning) greive will KILL us all

  • sinenomine Mar 24, 2010

    Proximity of the houses does not necessarily make them prone to catch fire from their neighbors. I grew up in a brick "row house" in a large northern city and I remember several houses in our neighborhood which caught fire without spreading to the neighbors on either side. At least a couple of these fires caused serious damage and one caused a fatality.

  • SheriffTruman Mar 24, 2010

    Close houses may make it a little more likely, but with wind conditions like yesterday, fires can spread over a pretty good distance. Not that things shouldn't be looked into, but simply mandating houses be farther apart might not stop freak occurences.

    Interesting that it started on the grass between houses. Assuming that there was no construction, there are onlt three things I can think of to cause this.

    1. Carelessly discarded smoking materials
    2. Yard equipment
    3. Kids playing with matches/ intential or accidental burning.

    I'll go out on a limb and guess 1 is by far the most likely followed by 2 with 3 being only a tiny tiny chance.

  • SoFarFromHome Mar 24, 2010

    I drove by this morning, and portions of the houses had siding that literally melted. I'm sure it was all plastic or something similar. Where the siding had melted off completely, you could then see the wood walls.

    We need to pray and help these families in any way possible!

  • SomeRandomGuy Mar 24, 2010

    Another station reported that the HOA maintains the yards and all the yards covered with pine straw. If that's true, I have a feeling the HOA WILL be hearing from some homeowner's inusrance companies!

  • katiebridgette Mar 24, 2010

    I wonder what kind of siding these houses had. Dry grass, gusty winds and closely spaced houses are only part of the equation.

  • Joani P. Mar 24, 2010

    Cherokee has a good point...these houses are so close together you can smell what your neighbor is cooking for supper! This cannot be too safe.

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