Chapel Hill house where 15 lived badly damaged by fire

From staff reportsFebruary 10, 2012 

— Firefighters put out a blaze that badly damaged a house at 618 Sykes St. Friday.

The fire started near one of several portable electric heaters being used to heat the house, fire officials said.

Four fire engines, one ladder truck, an assistant fire marshal, and a Battalion Chief from Chapel Hill and a ladder truck from Carrboro responding at 1:45 a.m. found the first floor in flames.

The fire was quickly brought under control and a complete search of the building was completed with no one found. The first crews were not met by anyone from the house and none of the bystanders could provide information. Subsequent investigation determined a total of 15 people were living in the house, according to a news release.

The town limits occupancy to no more than four unrelated individuals. It wasn’t clear Friday whether those in the house were related.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. There were smoke detectors in the house, but none of the detectors were working because the batteries had worn out. The contents of the house were a total loss and the damage to the structure was significant.

The Chapel Hill Fire Department recommends that smoke detectors be tested monthly and batteries replaced every six months.

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