Duplex fire displaces two families in Fayetteville
Posted December 24, 2014 12:12 p.m. EST
Updated December 24, 2014 4:05 p.m. EST
Fayetteville, N.C. — A Christmas Eve fire at an apartment complex off Murchison Road left two families homeless for the holidays.
Five people were in the Wilma Street duplex when the fire broke out early Wednesday.
"We heard the alarms going, and all we saw was the smoke," Rick Hester said. "We ran out. That's the only thing we could do."
One family was sitting around a table playing cards when they smelled the smoke and ran.
"I said, 'Something seems like it's burning,' so my cousin got up, and he was looking around kitchen," Shapuria Gregory said. "Then, I saw the black smoke behind the washing machine."
Albert Logan, who lives across the street, said he heard screams about 1:30 a.m. and looked out of his window to see smoke and flames shooting from the structure.
“I called 911, and then I grabbed my hose and pulled it across the street and started trying to put out some fire, but that room was engulfed by then,” Logan said, pointing to part of the home.
One of the people who escaped was treated for smoke inhalation.
Neighbor Marquelo McRae was also on the scene moments after the fire started.
“I got up and ran to the door,” McRae said. “I heard a lot of screaming and ran outside, and I just saw fire everywhere and everybody running outside.”
Witnesses say firefighters were there within minutes to knock down the blaze, but not before neighbors made a last check to make sure everyone was out safely.
“A lot of people in the community went into the back apartment,” Logan said. “No one could go into that front apartment.”
Neighbors said firefighters rushed back into the building and saved a family dog – a puppy named Slick – that was still inside its kennel in a back room.
This is the second tragedy in two months for the Gregory family, In October, Lavar Gregory was shot outside a nightclub on Bragg Boulevard, and his lifeless body was dropped off outside a Fayetteville hospital.
"All of my auntie's pictures that she had of my cousin when he recently passed in October are gone," Jamal Gregory said.
Investigators haven't yet determined how the fire started.
The local Red Cross chapter found hotel rooms for the families and was providing other assistance.