Local News

Arson suspected cause of Durham fire that displaced dozens

Posted September 1, 2012 11:25 a.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2012 9:14 p.m. EDT

— Durham fire investigators said Saturday they believe that someone intentionally set fire to an apartment building that went up in flames Friday afternoon.

The fire at Springfield Apartments, near Martin Luther King Jr. and University drives, damaged 18 units on all three floors of the building, kicking 34 people out of their homes.

Durham Deputy Fire Chief Dan Curia said that investigators are treating the fire as a case of arson but have not identified a suspect. Investigators were combing the scene of the fire for evidence Saturday. They said the fire started in apartment 404 around 4 p.m.

"For someone to just an apartment on fire is ridiculous," resident Adu Sheref said. "That is just heartbreaking. This is inhuman."

More than 40 firefighters battled the blaze Friday afternoon, and two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion, but no residents of the building were hurt.

Sheref cam home after hearing that his apartment building was on fire.

"When I saw the fire, the way it was raging, all the smoke, I just broke into tears," he said.

On Saturday, he was among the residents poking through the debris to see what belongings they could salvage.

"The most important thing, and that was really my question from time to time yesterday: Was anybody injured?" Sheref said.

The Red Cross was helping those lost their homes find food, temporary shelter and clothing. 

The Springfield Apartments will also be accepting donations at the leasing office on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. following the Labor Day holiday.  They are seeking non-perishable food items, clothing, towels, toys and pet supplies.