Week on from Raleigh fire, people moving forward slowly
Posted March 24
Raleigh, N.C. — A week after a fire destroyed one downtown Raleigh building and damaged nine others, progress toward normalcy comes in small increments.
The site of what was to be the five-story Metropolitan apartment building at West Jones and North Harrington street has been the scene of an active investigation, but Raleigh police and fire investigators and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives wrapped up their on-site work Friday as they search for the cause of the five-alarm blaze – Raleigh's largest fire in nearly a century.
Meanwhile, city building inspectors are still checking nearby buildings to see if they are structurally sound enough so the hundreds of residents who fled the fire can return.
"You wonder about the people in these buildings. You see the boarded-up windows. What are they doing? How are they coping?" said Slater Mapp, who works downtown and stopped Friday to check out the fire damage.
The Red Cross says the 110 residents they helped in days following the fire have found alternative living arrangements.
"That was an enormous fire, and they contained it," Mapp said, praising the actions of local firefighters. "We’re fortunate to have people like that working for us."
The youth center for nearby Edenton Street United Methodist Church sustained heavy smoke and water damage after embers burned holes through the roof. In seven days, work there has transitioned from cleanup mode to fix-up phase.
"We had the moisture getting sucked out of here quick. We had a brand new, temporary roof put on (last) Friday," youth pastor Rush Beam said.
The church wasn't able to hold its weekly Sunday service in the youth building last weekend, but Beam said services will be held there this Sunday.
"When I think back where we were last Friday morning, I was so thrilled our building was still standing," he said. "In a lot of ways, we’ve just been counting our blessings, knowing where we are. It’s a much shorter road forward than we thought originally."