Blaze Rampages Through Raleigh Townhouse Complex
Posted February 22, 2007 3:54 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2007 11:23 p.m. EST
The townhouse fire broke out at Pine Knoll Townes, located near the intersection of Old Buffaloe Road and Capital Boulevard. At least three rows of townhouses were involved in the fire.
Beazer Homes USA, the developer of the complex, said 30 units were destroyed. The company said 20 were occupied and five had been completed but were unsold.
Raleigh firefighters remained on the scene through the night, attacking "hot spots" of fire they found in the rubble.
The American Red Cross said it had helped 65 people who were forced out by the fire. The Red Cross set up a Disaster Assistance Center to provide shelter, food, clothing, medicines and other emergency needs.
"This is, like, all I have. It's scary," resident Randolyn Hinton said through tears as smoke blew from the fire. She said she first feared her boyfriend had been caught in the fire.
"Some people just moved over here, and it's just messed up that to see that their homes that they bought to live in for years to come just went up in flames," resident Ramel Parks said.
Witnesses told WRAL that the smoke from the fire was so thick in spots that it was hard to see the road. Several homes and businesses in the area were evacuated, including the neighboring Emporium Plaza shopping center.
Firefighters said strong winds hampered their efforts to extinguish the fire, which sent up a plume of smoke visible for miles and that was thick enough to be captured on weather radar.
Assistant Fire Chief Tommie Ann Styons said the fire did not appear to be suspicious, but the cause had not been determined.
“We were fortunate that we were able to get a lot of resources here in a hurry and just surround it and cut it off. That’s really all you can shoot for in this sort of environment” Styons said. “With this wind, it doesn’t take much.”
Rush-hour traffic backed up for miles along Capital Boulevard because of the heavy smoke, and officials urged motorists to avoid the area.
There were no reports of any injuries.