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Students Return To Durham Apartments After Monday Night Fire

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DURHAM — Within a matter of minutes, flames raced through an apartment building in Durham Monday night. Now, dozens of Duke students are feeling blue.

Fifteen apartments at the Campus Oaks Apartments on Swift Street were damaged; seven were destroyed. Investigators believe a cigarette started the fire that forced about 30 students out of their homes.

"I woke up this morning. I didn't know who to see first," says Duke student Jared Frood. "I want to talk to the firefighters to see when I can get in."

Duke students returned to the apartments Tuesday, the morning after fire ripped through the building. Daylight made it obvious that they cannot go home anytime soon.

"I thought it was a dream. You never think it's going to happen to you," Frood says. "You never realize it's so close to you and so real."

The fire started in apartment 302 just after 9 p.m. Monday night. Justin Fishkin returned home from the library to find his apartment in flames.

"I didn't know where my roommate was, so I was hoping he wasn't in there, or he didn't leave anything on. I hoped he was okay," Fishkin says.

No one was injured, but many residents escaped with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Most worry that whatever is still inside is not worth keeping.

"Everything I owned -- I just packed all my stuff from home and drove it down," says Duke student Judd Stensrud. "I brought clothes and books, but what I'm really worried about is my school notes."

Students already have a lot on their minds this week. They are taking midterms right now, and spring break starts Friday.

"I just want to get in, see if I can salvage some stuff, move into a buddy's place and finish the week off into spring break," Fishkin says.

Duke University says it can house all of the students who lived at the apartments on campus. Seven students have already accepted that offer. The Red Cross is also on campus, helping students replace what they lost.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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