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6 condos destroyed, 3 damaged in Chapel Hill fire

Investigators said they aren't sure yet what caused the fire at University Gardens in Chapel Hill but said it appears that it started in the attic of one apartment and then spread to others.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A blaze that destroyed six units and damaged three others at a Chapel Hill condominium complex Monday morning likely started in the attic of one unit and quickly spread to the others, authorities said.

The fire broke out around 10 a.m. in an 18-unit building at University Gardens, 800 Pritchard Ave. Extension, and spread down the length of the building.

Investigators weren't sure Monday morning what sparked the fire but said the 18-unit building was inspected last week and that the smoke detectors in it were working.

There were no injuries reported, although there were some concerns early on about pets that had been unaccounted for. Four dogs were rescued and returned to their owners, a fire department spokeswoman said, but no animals died in the fire.

According to Eric Plow, the president of the complex's homeowners association, many of the condos are privately owned but are leased to tenants. Most of them, he said, have renter's insurance.

Pavielle Williamson was at work when she received a call about the fire. She returned home to find her condo destroyed.

"I'm glad that everybody's OK, and that's all that matters to me," she said. "Everything in the apartment can be replaced. Photos are photos, but a life is a life."

The American Red Cross was working Monday to assist about a dozen residents with a place to stay.

In their inspections last week, fire marshals noted that units did not have fire extinguishers and that residents needed to get them, but it wasn't clear if the units had them.


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