Local News

Officials: Fire at Chapel Hill Apartments 'Suspicious'

Posted August 26, 2007 6:50 a.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2007 3:15 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill fire officials said they are treating an early morning fire that hit the Kingswood Apartment complex as suspicious.

Firefighters were called out to the complex at 1105 N.C. Highway 54 Bypass shortly after 2 a.m. Crews from Chapel Hill, Carborro, Durham, Hillsborough North Chatham, Parkwood and New Hope were called in to assist.

The first crews to arrive found a large fire involving the third floor and roof of Building S at the complex, said Robert Borgesi, an interim battalion chief with the Chapel Hill Fire Department.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control by 3 a.m., officials said.

No residents were hurt, but one firefighter suffered a twisted or broken ankle, said Chapel Hill Fire Chief Jones. He was treated and released from UNC Hospitals.

Firefighters experienced a high rate of fatigue as they battled the blaze in high humidity, Jones said.

The fire caused at least $300,000 worth of damage to the building, according to initial estimates.

Fire destroyed two apartments and the roof of the building, Borgesi said. Ten other apartments had smoke and water damage.

A significant number of people were displaced, but fire officials did not know the exact number.

The Orange County chapter of the Red Cross is providing assistance to those displaced by the fire.

Six volunteers trained to deal with disasters arrived at the scene shortly after being contacted by emergency services, said Scott Madry with the Red Cross.

Preliminary investigations show that the fire started in an apartment on the third floor. Fire officials declined to give more details about why they are treating the fire as suspicious.

The Chapel Hill Fire Marshall's office and special agents from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigations are probing the cause and origin of the fire.

Donations to the Red Cross can be made by calling 919-942-4862 or through the Orange County chapter's Web site.