RALEIGH, N.C. — Improperly discarded smoking material was likely to blame for an early-morning fire that forced 15 adults and four children out of their homes Friday, authorities said.
There were no reports of injuries, and Raleigh fire officials called the blaze "accidental."
The fire started sometime before 2:30 a.m. at Hamilton Ridge Apartments, 4951 Tall Timber Drive.
Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said the fire started on the second floor and quickly spread to the roof. At least two apartments were destroyed.
"Well, the truth of it is, it’s 2:30 in the morning. Heavy fire in an apartment building presents an awful lot of danger,” McGrath said.
The Red Cross is helping the displaced residents find temporary shelter and providing them with food and clothing.
James Cunningham said he was asleep on his couch when firefighters began banging on his door.
Fast-moving flames and smoke were all Cunningham said he saw when he got outside his apartment.
“The corner apartment was on fire, and 20 minutes later, the back corner was on fire. So it had come all the way around,” he said.
Kenny Coats said his roommate saved his life by waking him up so he could flee the apartment.
Coats said his back sliding glass door exploded and smoke and fire took over his apartment. The smoke detector did not go off, he said.