Local News

Raleigh condo fire displaces 10 people

Posted December 22, 2010

— A firefighter suffered minor burns battling a two-alarm blaze early Wednesday at a Raleigh condominium building that collapsed, leaving 10 people homeless.

A 911 call at 2:24 a.m. first reported the fire at 4646 block of Grinding Stone Drive in the Walden Woods Condominiums complex, off East Millbrook Road, said Division Chief Brad Harvey, with the Raleigh Fire Department.

Harvey said that flames were coming through the roofs of two end units when crews arrived.

Wes Copeland said the fire appeared small when he, his fiancée and young children left their condo. But it spread quickly, he said.

"At the time, it didn't look like much. It looked like just a little fire in the corner, and within five minutes or so, it flared up pretty big," Copeland said.

Sixty firefighters worked to bring the fire under control by 3:30 a.m. Firefighters entered the building at one point but had to pull out because heat and flames.

A firefighter suffered minor burns to his ears. He was taken to the North Carolina Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals for treatment and was later released..

None of the residents were injured.

The three-story building collapsed in on itself, destroying four of the six units in it, Harvey said.

Investigators believe that the fire started near one of the decks, but the building collapse has made it hard to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Investigators do not believe it is suspicious.

Benjamin Clark was displaced by the fire but said he thinks his unit escaped the worst of the fire. Fire rips through Raleigh condo building Fire rips through Raleigh condos

"It was probably about 15 feet (away). You can see where it clearly stops," said Clark, who will be staying with his father. "Good thing first responders got out here and got the job done."

Harvey said that family and friends were able to give a place to stay to all of the displaced residents.

"What a Christmas present. I guess being alive – that solves everything," Clark said.


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  • Bklyn2Raleigh Dec 24, 2010

    I live right across the street and spoke with one of the families last night as they tried to salvage items from the house. If anyone is looking to donate, I have a contact email for one of them. It is a mom, dad, and their 4 kids: 3yo boy, 5yo girl, 7yo boy, 9yo girl. They have lost everything. He wasn't sure of an address to give, so I got his email and will get a listing of specifics from him. I set up my own email for all correspondence: grindingstonefire@gmail.com. I think if we all pick up a little bit, it will make a big difference. Just think of everything you have in your house that would be gone if there was a fire...my mom and her church were wanting to donate, that is what prompted me to try and get contact info for them. Thanks & God Bless

  • lindafriend Dec 23, 2010

    If anyone wants to donate to Wesley Copeland and his family - his fiance's father set up a paypal account: edelkampfire@yahoo.com

    There is also a Facebook group called "Benefit for Wes and Jenna"


  • LovemyPirates Dec 22, 2010

    Tragedy can bring out the best in some and the "snarky" in others - God Bless Us Everyone!

  • djofraleigh Dec 22, 2010

    Glad they all got out, and the firefighter is OK. Fire is awful.

    "...said the fire appeared small when he, his fiancée and young children left their condo."

    What is that, children by a future marriage? I keep hearing this. This might be a sign to make the legal commitment and get the rights a father should take and have.

  • tgarrett2 Dec 22, 2010

    Thank you LOC. and everyone that gave me the contact information..... Merry Christmas to all and may God pull everyone together to help this family in need and many more.

  • wildcat Dec 22, 2010

    No lives were lost and that we all should be thankful. Its a tragedy still and I hope the families have a place to go to. Its cold outside, so praying they will have somewhere to go.

    Materials in these condos, and apartments are not good materials any way. Not fire-proof is why the fire spread so quickly.

  • micah Dec 22, 2010

    Um, for decades multi-family dwellings have required a myriad of passive fire mitigation measures. For instance, the walls between units must use a minimum 5/8 drywall on both sides. This provides a minimum of a 1-hour fire rating. Most apartments and townhouses I see have extra drywall between dwelling units to further add to the fire-rating. Also, most apartment buildings built in the past few decades are required to have much longer rated firewalls between every so many apartments, at a minimum.

  • Mugu Dec 22, 2010

    Captain Hindsight to the rescue!

  • Twittyfan Dec 22, 2010

    What does it matter if they were nice or not.. At least they have a roof over there head.. I am glad to see everyone made it out safe.. I would like to help this families.. God Bless them and their families.

  • RB-1 Dec 22, 2010

    Awww, so sorry for them - and right before Christmas too.

    Praying they will be ok.