The early morning fire Monday that left 130 Charlotteans without a home – and seven people hospitalized – was intentionally set, the Charlotte Fire Department said.
Three of the people had serious injuries, according to Observer news partner WBTV.
Fire officials said 40 apartment units were affected by the fire at the Woodscape apartments on Farm Pond Lane. It took more than 50 firefighters an hour to put out the heavy flames, the department said.
The blaze caused more than $300,000 in damage, fire officials said.
Charlotte TV station WSOC reported that the heat and flames were so intense that two tenants had to jump to safety from the third floor. Among those who jumped was a woman who first tossed a baby to someone on the ground below, a witness told the station. That woman broke her ankle when she jumped, the witness told the station.
“I opened my door and all I seen was flames,” tenant Renee Mack told WBTV. “I didn’t hear no smoke alarm, no sprinklers, no nothing. … We just pretty much just started running.”
Fire officials said each unit had smoke detectors installed and each breezeway had fire extinguishers that had been serviced properly.
The Red Cross opened a temporary shelter at Albemarle Road Middle School to help the tenants. The organization is also assisting the displaced residents by offering financial assistance for food, clothing, lodging and other items, WBTV reported.