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Fire Officials Believe Blaze Near Fayetteville State University Was Accidental

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Officials believe the fire that damaged student housing across from Fayetteville State University Thursday night was accidental.

The blaze at the construction site, located at the intersection of Murchison Road and Council Street, was first reported to Fayetteville police at 5:55 p.m.

Officials said workmen were installing floor plumbing and using a blowtorch, when it apparently ignited some fiberboard or other combustible material, which smoldered, then caught on fire.

Bernard Richardson and Gregory Pruitt were standing on the corner of Murchison Road when the fire broke out.

They say it took only a few minutes before flames and smoke gutted the three-story building.

The third floor sustained heavy damage with material collapsing to the second floor, according to firefighter Calvin Bishop.

Last fall, close to 100 female students moved into a Best Western Hotel because the school had no place to house them.

Although the fire may postpone student's plans for university housing, neighbors say it could have been worse.

"I'm just glad it was this building and not the one down the street, because if it was the one down the street, we'd have much more on our hands than just a burning building," said one neighborhood resident.

A university police official says a dormitory near the firescene was evacuated.

A firefighter was treated on the scene for exhaustion and taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he is doing fine. There were no reports of any other injuries.

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