Local News

Carrboro Officials Fight 7th Apartment Fire Since Sunday

Posted November 28, 2007 8:20 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2007 11:28 a.m. EST

— Carrboro fire officials on Wednesday fought their seventh apartment fire since Sunday.

Wednesday night’s fire damaged 15 units in a building at an apartment complex and displaced 26 residents, including an infant.

The fire happened just before 6:30 p.m. at Ashbrook Apartments, 601 Jones Ferry Road. Eight units were involved with fire and seven others received water and/or smoke damage, authorities said. The units did not have sprinklers because of when they were built, officials said.

The complex is home to a number of students and faculty from UNC-Chapel Hill, but it was unclear if any of the displaced residents were connected with UNC.

The building is not livable, authorities said, and three firefighters suffered minor injuries. Two suffered smoke inhalation and one suffered a hand laceration.

"They had fire throughout the roof area, large amounts of fire," said Capt. Ken Squires, of the Carrboro Fire Department.

Firefighters had to take an aggressive approach to contain the fire since the building was surrounded by trees and thick pine-straw mulch on the grounds around them.

Personnel from Carrboro, Chapel Hill, North Chatham and New Hope fire departments were at the scene during the fire. They rescued several pets, officials said.

Apartment management arranged for the 26 displaced residents to be housed at area hotels, and the Red Cross was assisting.

The string of apartment fires in Carrboro began Sunday morning at Carolina Apartments on Highway 54. That fire was a result of cooking and resulted mostly in smoke damage.

Sunday night, firefighters were called to Berkshire West, also on Highway 54. There, an electrical short in a kitchen caused a fire that involved two rooms of one apartment and resulted in water damage to two other units.

Twelve residents were displaced overnight.

Monday afternoon, a fire was reported in an apartment building on Rock Haven Road. There, firefighters found moderate smoke conditions as a result of an overheated oven.

Tuesday morning, a fire was reported in a duplex on Bim Street, a block from the fire station. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered a fire involving a deck and a privacy fence. The cause of that fire was determined to be discarded smoking materials.

Tuesday evening, another call came in at an apartment complex off Smith Level Road, south of downtown. Unattended cooking was the cause of the fire, where smoke caused most of the damage.

Wednesday morning, firefighters extinguished a fire in a second-floor unit at Ramsgate Apartments on Highway 54. Discarded smoking materials were the culprit there; the fire burned a balcony and exterior wall.

Wednesday night’s fire at Ashbrook was the most serious of the seven fires and the only one that resulted in any injuries to firefighters.

The latest string of fires continued a trend of apartment fires in Carrboro going back as far as March. One of those, in September, resulted in a civilian death and the total loss of an entire apartment building.

It is believed that fire burned for nearly 20 minutes before anyone reported it.

In October, Carrboro Fire-Rescue initiated an outreach program to all the apartment communities in town. Fire personnel deliver an awareness program aimed at apartment dwellers that focuses on smoking, cooking and candle safety.

The program educates residents on measures they can take to minimize their fire risk. In keeping with national trends, cooking and smoking are leading causes of residential fires in Carrboro.

Carrboro Fire-Rescue reminds everyone not to leave cooking or smoking materials unattended. Be absolutely certain smoking materials are completely extinguished and discard them in an appropriate container. Never smoke in bed.