Local News

Raleigh condo fire displaces 10 people

Posted December 22, 2010 5:41 a.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2010 4:52 p.m. EST

— A firefighter suffered minor burns battling a two-alarm blaze early Wednesday at a Raleigh condominium building that collapsed, leaving 10 people homeless.

A 911 call at 2:24 a.m. first reported the fire at 4646 block of Grinding Stone Drive in the Walden Woods Condominiums complex, off East Millbrook Road, said Division Chief Brad Harvey, with the Raleigh Fire Department.

Harvey said that flames were coming through the roofs of two end units when crews arrived.

Wes Copeland said the fire appeared small when he, his fiancée and young children left their condo. But it spread quickly, he said.

"At the time, it didn't look like much. It looked like just a little fire in the corner, and within five minutes or so, it flared up pretty big," Copeland said.

Sixty firefighters worked to bring the fire under control by 3:30 a.m. Firefighters entered the building at one point but had to pull out because heat and flames.

A firefighter suffered minor burns to his ears. He was taken to the North Carolina Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals for treatment and was later released..

None of the residents were injured.

The three-story building collapsed in on itself, destroying four of the six units in it, Harvey said.

Investigators believe that the fire started near one of the decks, but the building collapse has made it hard to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Investigators do not believe it is suspicious.

Benjamin Clark was displaced by the fire but said he thinks his unit escaped the worst of the fire.

"It was probably about 15 feet (away). You can see where it clearly stops," said Clark, who will be staying with his father. "Good thing first responders got out here and got the job done."

Harvey said that family and friends were able to give a place to stay to all of the displaced residents.

"What a Christmas present. I guess being alive – that solves everything," Clark said.