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Rocky Mount Families Pick Up the Pieces After Fire Shatters Their Lives

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ROCKY MOUNT — Seven families lost their homes after a massive apartment fire in Rocky Mount. Firefighters say it started as a small stove fire, but burned out of control.

Little is left of the building. The fire forced its way through the attic and did significant damage to seven homes in the Tau Valley Apartments.

Doris Patterson says smoke blanketed her street two blocks away.

"I couldn't see the house across the street from me. It was so thick and black," she says.

Apartment tenant Anna Moss was out of town when fire tore through her home.

"I was in Virginia Beach and got home, and everybody started calling me on my cell phone to warn me on what was going on," she says. "All my family was here when I got here, but it was a big shock."

Now, seven families, including Moss family are living somewhere else -- their walls, their carpet, everything is damaged.

"The upstairs, I don't know if we'll be able to salvage a lot of that because of the smoke damage," Moss says. "We're going to take it out and air it out and see how things go."

In the middle of their loss, residents say there is a little good news. They say theRocky Mount Fire Departmentdid a tremendous job of protecting household items while battling the fire.

In one room, firefighters even moved all the furniture to the middle of the room and covered it up.

The damage will take weeks to repair, but residents are happy no one was hurt.

Firefighters say a pan full of grease got too hot and started the fire. The tenant put water on it, but that only made it worse.

Firefighters say it could have been put out instantly by simply putting a lid on the pan.