Discarded cigarette to blame for Raleigh apartment fire
Posted February 25, 2009 6:53 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A discarded cigarette is likely to blame for a fire that destroyed three apartment units around 6 a.m. Wednesday at Falls Creek Apartments on Thornton Commons Drive, according to fire officials.
The cigarette belonged to a woman who said she often smokes on her second-story balcony, authorities said. No one was injured.
Besides the three units destroyed in the fire, two others were damaged by water. A total of 20 apartments will be off-limits to residents until Thursday, according to apartment officials.
Red Cross officials were helping the displaced residents, who stood outside in the cold as firefighters battled the blaze. They later kept warm in the apartment complex's clubhouse.
Resident Katie Baker said she woke up to the sound of a fire alarm.
"At first, we just saw smoke and then it started to break through the roof, and then we walked around back and we could see it was the whole building," she said.
Battalion Chief Keith Tessinear warned the community about the dangers of carelessly discarding cigarettes.
"Lately, in the city of Raleigh, we've had several fires that have started because of discarded smoking material, so we really need to let the public know how dangerous it is," he said. "If you smoke, that's fine, but be careful how you discard it or how you handle it. Obviously, now you know people are displaced."