Investigators: Raleigh apartment fire was arson

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2012 

BROCKTONFIRE.112612.TI

Firefighters work at the apartment that was damaged by Monday morning's fire, which destoryed a multifamily building on Brockton Drive in northeast Raleigh. Photographed Monday (Nov. 26, 2012) afternoon.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com

— Investigators are working against a potential arsonist in the fire that damaged a four-unit apartment building in North Raleigh early Monday.

The fire, at 4608 Brockton Dr., displaced eight people, but no one was injured.

Dogs used in the investigation found evidence of some sort of flammable substance near a couch on a rear deck where firefighters and residents say the fire began, said Raleigh fire Lt. Adam Stanley.

“We are investigating it as an arson fire at this point,” Stanley said.

Raleigh police and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting with the fire department’s investigation. No one has been arrested, Stanley said.

The fire heavily damaged the home of Candace Morgan, who lives at 4608-B Brockton Drive, and resulted in smoke and water damage to the three other apartments, said Raleigh fire Capt. Wayne Motley.

Morgan watched her two children walk out the door to catch the bus to school Monday before she crawled back on her living room couch and fell asleep.

Minutes later, Morgan, 31, was awakened by a loud banging on her front door.

It was her children, Angel, 12 and LaMarcus, 14.

“They came back to the apartment, banging on the door,” Morgan said. “They told me the back of the house was smoking.”

LaMarcus, who attends East Millbrook Middle School with his sister, said black smoke was everywhere.

“It was like to the top of the trees,” he said.

Antonio Navarro, 17, who lives with his parents at apartment C, was awakened by the smell of smoke. He thought the air conditioner was malfunctioning.

But then someone came knocking on the front door and yelling the house was on fire.

“I looked out back. It was all lit up,” Navarro said. “I ain’t never seen nothing like that.”

On Monday afternoon, Morgan stood across the street from her burned apartment with her children and sister. She was still wrapped in the white blanket she pulled around her shoulders when she fled her home.

Morgan thinks the fire started on the couch that she had recently put on the rear deck so a relative could pick it up. She said her lease ends next month.

“When I opened my curtains, the fire was about my height,” said Morgan, who stands about 5 feet 2 inches tall. “The couch was on fire. It had already burned half of the couch. That’s when I called 911.”

Morgan said even before she went to bed between 4 and 4:30 a.m., she smelled “a funny smell. A rubbery smell.”

“I didn’t pay no attention to it,” she said.

Officials with the Red Cross gave the displaced families vouchers that paid for rooms for two nights at the Comfort Inn.

Morgan had gotten into her apartment by late Monday afternoon. The fire had destroyed her furniture, but she was able to find her high school diploma, birth certificate and some of her children’s clothing.

Navarro, her next door neighbor, was livid.

“I don’t know why this happened,” he said, sitting on a sidewalk curb across from his family’s apartment. “It just makes me mad.”

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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