Large fire at northwest Raleigh apartment complex displaces residents

aramos@newsobserver.comAugust 24, 2013 

— Dozens of people were displaced after fire raced through an apartment building in northwest Raleigh on Saturday evening.

The fire, at 5024 Manor Valley Court off Grove Barton Road, heavily damaged a four-story building in the Camden Crest Apartments complex.

No residents were injured, but two Raleigh firefighters were hospitalized with elevated heart rates due to exertion, said Division Chief Ronny Mizell.

The 30-unit building was “fully involved,” with flames coming through the roof, the first firefighters on the scene reported.

“I’ve never seen one spread this fast,” Mizell said. “It was just a column of smoke and fire in that top floor. It actually backdrafted, and there was an explosion in the attic.”

It was too early Saturday to tell what caused the fire, but it appeared to start on the top floor, Mizell said.

Alvaro Medina was watching TV in a building across the parking lot when he saw smoke flying past an open window. Medina went outside and saw that the roof above a corner unit was engulfed in flames.

“How sad to lose everything in an instant,” he said.

The fire was reported at 6:36 p.m., Mizell said. It was declared under control at about 8 p.m., but firefighters were still pouring water on the building more than an hour later.

The Red Cross and the management company for Camden Crest were assisting displaced residents. In addition to their belongings, some were concerned about pets who might have been left in the building.

Margie Garcia was worried about Andy, her four-year-old Maltese mix who lives with her husband Danny at Camden Crest. The couple are separated, but share custody of Andy. Margie Garcia said her husband left a short message on her phone: “My apartment’s on fire. Andy’s inside.”

When she arrived and saw the extent of the fire, Margie Garcia said, “I thought he was dead.”

But firefighters managed to get Andy out and gave him to a Raleigh police officer who reunited him with the Garcias at the complex leasing office. His white coat was tinged with soot, but otherwise he appeared unharmed.

“It had a happy ending,” Danny Garcia said. “The other stuff is just stuff.”

Altogether, firefighters rescued four dogs from the building, Mizell said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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